Gulf Coast Environmental Systems Supports the “Zero Flaring by 2030” Initiative
20-years-ago, the southern Texas skyline, like many other areas of “oil country”, looked like a birthday cake lined with bright burning open flares. With recent pushes towards alternative options, the “candles” have started to disappear.
In the drilling process, the oil that is retrieved from the ground is accompanied by a significant amount of gas. These gases are deemed uneconomical and generally burned off using flares. Flares are pollution control devices used to safely combust unwanted process waste gas streams and are essential for safe plant operation, and the abatement of routine waste gas emissions. This process has been used for decades and is still the most widely accepted method of process waste gas abatement because of the dangerous Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) that can be found in these streams. Routine flaring, a specific type of flaring that is incredibly common in the oil and gas industry, is a process in which flaring is done in cases where the gas does not present any safety risks. However, flares have garnered quite a bit of attention in the media with the focus on methane and CO2 and their role in climate change.
Globally, gas flares burn approximately 140 billion cubic meters of natural gas per year. This amounts to 300 million tons of CO2 being released into the atmosphere without capture. This release is a potentially massive missed opportunity; the amount of gas flared last year alone could be used to create more electricity than the entire continent of Africa uses in a year. Furthermore, gases that cannot be used for energy generation could alternatively be used for conservation and use in several other industries (ie: food and beverage, medical, etc.) providing further financial value. [Read more…]