Ten multinational oil companies, nine countries, and six global development institutions on Friday sealed a commitment to end routine gas flaring at oil production sites by 2030.
The Zero Routine Flaring by 2030 initiative was launched by United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, and World Bank Group President, Jim Yong Kim, as part of the World Bank Spring meeting in Washington.
The initiative, which represents more than 40 per cent of global gas flaring activities by oil companies, Mr. Ki-moon said, has already been endorsed by nine countries, 10 oil companies and six development institutions.
Some of the signatories to the agreement included Royal Dutch Shell, Total, Statoil, Eni, BG Group, Kuwait Oil Company, Petroamazonas of Ecuador, State Oil Compnay of Azerbaijan, Societe Nationale des Petroles du Congo, and Societe Nationale des Hydrocarbones of Cameroun.
The governments involved included Norway, Cameroun, Russian Federation, Kazakhstan, Gabon, Uzbekistan, Congo, Angola and France.
The World Bank led the development institutions, which also included United Nations, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, African Development Bank, Asian Development Bank and Islamic Development Bank.
The UN Secretary General noted that about 140 billion cubic meters of natural gas produced in association with oil was being “flared” at thousands of oil fields around the world.
Mr. Ki-moon said gas flaring has resulted in the emission of over 300 million tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, an equivalent to emissions of pollution from approximately 77 million cars.
If the amount of associated gas were used for power generation, the UN top official said it could provide more than 750 billion kilowatts of electricity, more than the electricity consumption capacity of the entire African continent.
However, he said at the moment the gas was being flared for a variety of technical, regulatory, and economic reasons, because its use was not given high priority.
“Gas flaring is a visual reminder that we are wastefully sending CO2 into the atmosphere,” the World Bank President said.
“We can do something about this. Together we can take concrete action to end flaring and to use this valuable natural resource to light the darkness for those without electricity.”
He said by endorsing the initiative, governments, oil companies and development institutions have recognized that routine gas flaring was unsustainable from a resource management and environmental perspective.
He added that agreeing to cooperate to eliminate on-going routine flaring not later than 2030 would help save the environment.
The World Bank President said by their commitment, they would publicly report their flaring activities as well as progress towards the target date on an annual basis.
Routine flaring, he said, would not take place in new oil fields developments, adding that governments would provide an operating environment conducive to investments and to the development of functioning energy markets.
As the world heads towards the adoption of a meaningful new international climate agreement in Paris in December, Mr. Ki-moon said the signatories to the agreement have demonstrated their commitment to real climate action.
While appealing to all oil-producing countries and companies to join the initiative, Mr. Ki-moon said reducing gas flaring could make a significant contribution towards mitigating climate change.
The World Bank has been active on the issues of eliminating gas flaring in oil fields in the last 15 years, as a founding member of the Global Gas Flaring Reduction Partnership.
The Bank has worked with its partners in GGFR and the United Nations Sustainable Energy for All initiative to increase the use of associated gas by helping remove the technical and regulatory barriers to flaring reduction.
The oil companies and governments yet to endorse the initiative, the Bank said, are expected to do so, after completing their on-going comprehensive reviews of their gas flaring.