Up to 170 billion cubic meters of natural gas are "flared" by the world's oil producers every year. The economic value amounts to $40 billion, but the burden on the earth's atmosphere -- in warming emissions like methane and carbon dioxide -- is enormous.
In spite of all the recent talk about climate change, the Kyoto Protocol and tight energy resources in Europe, the oil industry continues to burn huge volumes of natural gas that rises from oil deposits on land or under the sea. Over 20 countries have increased the practice of "flaring" in the last 12 years, and some burn far more gas on drilling platforms and in oil fields than they've admitted, officially, so far.
America's weather-data department, the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), came to this conclusion in a new report based on American satellite data. The study was financed by the World Bank, which five years ago started a global initiative to change the long-established practice of flaring gas and to capture it for energy use instead.
Tuesday, September 11, 2007