Flaring – Upstream
million tonnes CO2 equivalent
Flaring – Upstream – million tonnes CO2 equivalent (line chart)

We believe that flaring and venting (releasing gas to the atmosphere) of natural gas associated with oil production should be minimised as this is a waste of valuable resources, increases GHG emissions and contributes to climate change. Our HSSE & SP Control Framework sets out our flaring policy including the requirement for new facilities to be designed so as not to continuously flare or vent. When we acquire or become the operator of an existing facility that is already flaring or venting, it can take time before these activities can be stopped.

In our existing facilities, our policy is to reduce any continuous flaring or venting to as low a level as reasonably practical. Operational flaring occurs for safety reasons or during the start-up of Upstream facilities. We aim to minimise this operational flaring.

After several years of flaring reductions, the flaring of natural gas in our Upstream business increased in 2014 to 13.0 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent, from 7.4 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent in 2013. This was due to increased production at Majnoon in Iraq, in Nigeria and at the Pearl GTL plant in Qatar, as well as the start-up of Gumusut-Kakap in Malaysia. We are working on projects to reduce flaring at these locations. At Gumusut-Kakap we are installing equipment that will start capturing the gas for reinjection into the wells, by the end of 2015.

Overall, flaring made up around 17% of the total direct GHG emissions in 2014. Iraq accounted for around 35%, Nigeria for 30%, Qatar for 13% and Malaysia for 8% of this flaring in 2014.

Outside of Nigeria, Iraq and Malaysia, the few facilities that continuously flare accounted for less than 2% of our total direct GHG emissions in 2014. Some of these facilities are at ageing oil fields where the associated gas pressure is too low to power the compressors used to gather the gas and avoid flaring. In 2014, the venting of hydrocarbons amounted to around 1% of our total direct GHG emissions.

In line with our commitment to long-term flaring reduction, we have been a member of the World Bank’s Global Gas Flaring Reduction (GGFR) partnership for many years. Through the GGFR partnership, the World Bank has developed a Zero Routine Flaring by 2030 initiative that is designed to help governments and companies end continuous flaring by 2030. We have signed up to this World Bank initiative and believe it will be an important enabler to reduce continuous flaring by bringing together governments, companies and development organisations to work collaboratively towards this common goal.