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Mideast, N.Africa flaring gas worth $10 bln/year

Middle Eastern and North African countries are flaring natural gas worth as much as $10 billion every year, a World Bank body said on Wednesday.

The Global Gas Flaring Reduction (GGFR) unit of the World Bank urged Gulf oil producers to join a program to reduce emissions caused when gas, which is found when extracting oil and is thought too hard or costly to get to market, is flared off. About 150 billion to 170 billion cubic meters of gas is flared annually, adding about 400 million tons of greenhouses gases in annual emissions, GGFR said at an industry conference in Qatar. The Middle East and North Africa contribute about a third of the world’s total, second only to Russia. “My calculations (on the value) are about $10 billion,” Bent Svensson, GGFR’s manager, told Reuters on the sidelines of a gas conference in Qatar. “Each cubic meter of gas flared is a waste of resources that also generates two kilograms of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere,” he said.

Set up in 2002, the GGFR assists countries, international and national oil companies in reducing flaring. Gulf Arab countries have yet to join the group, Svensson told a news conference. With almost all Gulf Arab countries facing a gas crisis with the exception of Qatar -- the world’s third largest exporter of liquefied natural gas -- the flared gas could be used for reinjection or feedstock in the petrochemicals sector or desalination, Svensson said. Qatar and Kuwait are expected to sign up soon, Svensson said, adding that he also expected Oman and Saudi Arabia to join. Joining up would see countries commit to targets to reduce flaring with the possibility of penalizing companies that fail to meet the goals, he said. (Reuters)