N.D. flares push U.S. into global top 10 - World Bank
- If it's not madness it's just pure evil.
N.D. flares push U.S. into global top 10 -- World Bank
Gayathri Vaidyanathan, E&E reporter
Published: Friday, May 4, 2012
Enough natural gas was flared in North Dakota in 2011 to get the
attention of satellites for the first time since the World Bank began
measurements as part of a flaring reduction initiative.
About 140 billion cubic meters of gas was flared globally in 2011, up
from 138 bcm the previous year (the 2010 data was revised upward),
according to a World Bank official. The increase coincided with the
appearance of North Dakota in the satellite measurements, the
official added. The news was first reported by Reuters.
Reuters reported that the United States is now within the top 10 list
of flaring nations, which includes Russia, Nigeria, Iran and other
large oil-producing nations.
Flaring matters because the practice releases significant amounts of
carbon dioxide into the atmosphere while wasting a valuable fossil
fuel. It also produces other pollutants, although there are few
measurements on those pollutant loads.
The World Bank-led Global Gas Flaring Reduction partnership was
created in 2002 to reduce flaring worldwide, and it keeps an eye out
using nighttime satellites that calculate the volume of gas flared.
It publishes a report yearly on the volumes of natural gas flared by
the top 20 worst offenders, and before 2011, the United States fell
between the top 10 and 20.
North Dakota had not shown up on the GGFR's radar before last year
because the satellites can only capture light above a certain
threshold, the official said. That threshold appears to have been
The state witnessed a rapid rise in the production of oil from the
Bakken Shale in 2011. Production rose 40 percent from November 2010
to November 2011, to 510,000 barrels per day. Meanwhile, operators
flared off nearly 34 percent of the produced natural gas -- more than
100 million cubic feet (2 million cubic meters) daily -- because
there are not enough pipelines to carry all the produced gas to
"They are in such a hurry to produce the oil that they don't wait for
natural gas pipelines to come in," said David McCabe, an atmospheric
scientist with the Clean Air Task Force. "So they produce the oil and
flare off the gas."
The North Dakota measurements have necessitated that the World Bank
recalculate the volumes of gas flared by all nations, the official
said. The final measurements will be released mid-May.