ERCB Report: Flaring and Venting of Solution Gas Increases 7.6% in 2008
July 30, 2009
Nonetheless, solution gas flaring in Alberta has been reduced by 77 per cent since 1996, and solution gas venting has been reduced by 41 per cent since 2000. Flaring is the burning of natural gas that cannot be conserved. Venting is the release of natural gas into the atmosphere. Solution gas is natural gas produced in association with crude oil and bitumen production.
The ERCB’s ST60B-2009: Upstream Petroleum Industry Flaring and Venting Report also indicates that in 2008, the upstream oil and gas industry conserved 95.1 per cent of all solution gas produced in Alberta last year for use or sale, rather than flaring and venting it.
Flaring of solution gas dropped 5.8 per cent in 2008. In total, 306 million cubic metres of solution gas were flared in 2008 compared to 325 million in 2007.
Venting of solution gas increased 20.1 per cent in 2008. In total, 417 million cubic metres of solution gas were vented in 2008 compared to 347 million in 2007, primarily due to an increase in the number of new crude bitumen wells that produce small volumes of solution gas. These volumes are neither sufficient to keep a flare stack lit nor meet the ERCB’s test for conservation. Although the amount vented per facility is small, the growth in the number of crude bitumen operations was sufficient to increase the overall amount of solution gas vented.
The Clean Air Strategic Alliance (CASA) Flaring and Venting Project Team, which is composed of stakeholders from environmental groups, the petroleum industry, the ERCB, Alberta Energy, Alberta Environment and other government agencies, is working on a number of recommendations for regulatory changes to address solution gas venting in crude bitumen production operations and other facilities. One of the issues currently under review is the economic test currently utilized to determine if oil facilities must conserve solution gas.
This news release is available on the ERCB website at www.ercb.ca
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