Alberta tends to get a lot of flak from environmentalists about how dirty they think the oil and gas industry is in Alberta, but we’re actually doing a pretty good job overall.
One area where Alberta is a world leader is in reducing natural gas flaring and venting. According to the statistics quoted in this CBC Calgary story on natural gas flaring, 96 per cent of gas is conserved in Alberta, helping to conserve an estimated 7.2 million tons of carbon in the nine years prior to this story from 2007.
Have a look at this video. It starts about 15 seconds in:
“That’s equivalent to one and a half million vehicles off the roads in Alberta for an entire year,” said Darin Barter of the EUB in the story (now ERCB – Energy Resources Conservation Board).
Alberta’s done a good enough job that it’s an example that the World Bank thinks Alberta’s natural gas flaring guidelines should be used around the world. I knew that a lot of natural gas flaring was done around the world, but I had no idea of the scale of the problem until I watched this video.
Bent Svensson of the World Bank said in the story that the amount of natural gas flared in the world contributes to “almost 1,200 million tons of CO2 being emitted each year.” The reporter said that if that alone was done, the targets of the Kyoto Protocol would be met.
To get an idea of how much natural gas flaring is done around the world, take a look at this video from the World Bank. Such a waste!
It’s interesting to note that in 2007, Canada’s demand for natural gas was 3,114 BCF (billion cubic feet). To convert that to BCM (billion cubic metres), divide it by 35.3. That puts Canadian natural gas demand at about 88.2 BCM.
According to World Bank estimates, Nigeria and Russia’s flaring alone add up to around 66 BCM, or enough to supply 75% of Canada’s entire natural gas demand for a year. That’s a lot of gas and I’m not even including the natural gas flared by the other major gas flaring countries.
So next time you hear someone criticizing how Alberta handles natural gas flaring, point them to some of the links and videos here. Alberta, Saskatchewan (proposed new Saskatchewan flaring and venting regulations) and the rest of Canada are actually doing a pretty good job. We can do even better and that’s what we’re working towards.