North Sea flaring falls by 50 per cent following clampdown
Flaring in the North Sea has fallen by 50 per cent over the last four years after oil and gas firms operating there were put under tougher measurers to make production cleaner, according to new analysis from the North Sea Transition Authority (NSTA).
Offshore flaring fell 13 per cent last year to 22bn cubic feet (bcf) of gas, contributing to a total decrease of 50 per cent since 2018, when volumes totalled 44 bcf.
Last year’s reduction alone was equivalent to the gas demand of 80,000 UK homes.
About a fifth of emissions from North Sea oil and gas production activities come from flaring, which is when excess gas, released during the extraction process, is burned off – resulting in carbon dioxide emissions.
Some flaring is unavoidable for safety and operational reasons, but the NSTA has argued more can be done to cut flaring.
The NSTA started benchmarking flaring performance in 2020 and the following year issued tougher guidance, stating all new developments should have no routine flaring and venting.
Alongside tracking performance, the NSTA closely assesses operators’ applications for flaring consents and has ordered operators to temporarily restrict production to stay within agreed limits.
The NSTA has used sanctions powers for consents breaches – with £215,000 worth of fines issued in late-2022.
Hedvig Ljungerud, the NSTA’s Director of Strategy, said: “It is hugely encouraging to see North Sea flaring cut in half in just four years, something the NSTA has made a priority, and which supports both the UK’s energy security and net zero ambition. Industry also deserves credit for making this progress.
“The NSTA expects reductions to continue and remains firmly focused on both supporting and challenging industry on emissions, including from flaring and venting.”