EGYPT: flaring reform moves forward

Egypt has announced  that it will be a signatory to the “Zero Routine Flaring by 2030” initiative, a global effort to reduce gas flaring at oil production sites. 

The “Zero Routine Flaring by 2030” initiative, introduced by the World Bank in 2015, brings together governments, oil companies and development institutions who recognise that flaring is unsustainable from a resource-management and environmental perspective, and who agree to cooperate to eliminate routine flaring by no later than 2030.

At a Cairo workshop, jointly hosted by the Ministry of Petroleum and Mineral Resources and by the EBRD,  recommendations on options for gas flaring regulatory reform were discussed, along with the merits of different reform options for Egypt, including steps to strengthen the framework for monitoring and reporting gas flaring, underpinned by adopting industry-wide standards for measurement. Streamlining the investment approval process, clarifying regulatory responsibilities, and providing an enhanced role for stakeholder engagement also feature as recommendations.

Associated gas is found with deposits of petroleum, either dissolved in the oil or as a free “gas cap” above the oil in the reservoir. It is extracted along with the oil and, traditionally, has been released or flared as a waste product. As a result, about 150 billion cubic meters of associated gas is still flared annually around the world. This amount is equivalent to about half of Europe’s natural gas consumption. If used to produce electricity, it would be enough to meet the entire demand of the African continent. When flared, it produces around 350 million tonnes of CO2, or 10 per cent of the annual emissions of Europe.

The gas can be used in several ways after processing: sold and included in natural-gas distribution networks, used for on-site electricity generation with engines or turbines, reinjected for enhanced oil recovery, converted from gas to liquids producing synthetic fuels, or used as feedstock for the petrochemical industry.

Gas flaring is a source of local pollution, global warming and a waste of a valuable fuel source. Egypt ranks 11th among the top gas-flaring countries in the world. Capturing the over two billion cubic metres of gas flared in the country could provide five per cent of national energy needs and add US$ 300 million a year to the Egyptian economy.

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