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posted by CoolHand on Tuesday January 12 2016, @09:21PM   Printer-friendly
from the out-of-control-gas dept.

According to satellite data estimates, 350 million tons of natural gas were wastefully burned at the wellhead in 2012, about 3.5% of worldwide natural gas production. To put this into perspective, this amount of natural gas could provide electrical power to the entire continent of Africa. The CO2 emissions from natural gas flares are roughly equivalent to 10% of all CO2 emissions of the European Union.

The problem, as you might surmise, is the handling and transportation of the natural gas produced as a by-product of oil wells in areas without the infrastructure to handle gas. In addition, some gas produced as oil by-product has relatively low levels of methane. Russia flares more natural gas than any other nation, followed by Iraq, Iran, Nigeria, Venezuela, Algeria, and the United States.

The World Bank is trying to stop all routine flaring of natural gas by 2030. North Dakota and New Mexico are taking steps to reduce gas flares.

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  • (Score: 4, Interesting) by isostatic on Wednesday January 13 2016, @12:20AM

    by isostatic (365) on Wednesday January 13 2016, @12:20AM (#288860) Journal

    Energy companies like money, and flaring is like burning stacks of hundred dollar bills, but if it would take hundreds of thousands to save hundreds, well, it gets burned in place.

    And that's a good safeguard if there are no externalities, however that energy company does not pay the full price for the burning of that oil (deciding what that price is is another issue). It may decide it costs $101 to fix for every $100 saving -- not worthwhile. The rest of the world then suffers far more than $1, but that suffering is spread to 7 billion people, not just 1000 shareholders. Socialise the costs, privatise the profits.

    We have environmental protection laws because a company can make a fortune if they were to release methyl isocyanate because they've increased profits by not keeping safety systems functioning. If a company doesn't need to pay the price unless caught (and even then are likely to be immune from the full price)

    Even if they do pay the entire price, they may be less risk averse than the average person -- imagine a company with a net worth of $1b takes chance to make $20b with a 10% chance of it going bad and getting caught and having to pay $300b in compensation.

    That's a good deal. 9 times out of ten the company makes $20b, 1 time out of ten the company goes bust and loses $1b.

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