Oil production dropped from 82 million barrels per day (b/d) in 2019 to 76 million b/d in 2020, as global gas flaring reduced from 150 billion cubic meters (bcm) in 2019 to 142 bcm in 2020.
Gas flaring satellite data from 2020 reveals that Russia, Iraq, Iran, the United States, Algeria, Venezuela and Nigeria remain the top seven gas flaring countries for nine years running, since the first satellite was launched in 2012.
These seven countries produce 40% of the world’s oil each year, but account for roughly two-thirds (65%) of global gas flaring.
Gas flaring, the burning of natural gas associated with oil extraction, takes place due to a range of issues, from market and economic constraints, to a lack of appropriate regulation and political will.
The practice results in a range of pollutants released into the atmosphere, including carbon dioxide, methane and black carbon (soot).
The methane emissions from gas flaring contribute significantly to global warming in the short to medium term, because methane is over 80 times more powerful than carbon dioxide on a 20-year basis.
"In the wake of the covid-19 pandemic, oil-dependent developing countries are feeling the pinch, with constrained revenues and budgets. But with gas flaring still releasing over 400 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions each year, now is the time for action. We must forge ahead with plans to dramatically reduce the direct emissions of the oil and gas sector, including from gas flaring," said Demetrios Papathanasiou, Global Director for the Energy and Extractives Global Practice at the World Bank, in a press release on Wednesday.
The World Bank’s GGFR is a trust fund and partnership of governments, oil companies, and multilateral organizations working to end routine gas flaring at oil production sites around the world.