I don’t work in the oil and gas industry. This lede from Bloomberg Environment (subscription required) may not be news to anyone in the industry, but it absolutely blew me away:
In short, oil companies are flaring more than 500 million cubic feet/day. That can’t even compete with some other countries. Russia apparently flares almost 20 billion cubic meters/year.
After stunned amazement, my next reaction was to wonder why any good engineer wouldn’t be horrified as such waste, even aside from the climate impacts. Then I realized that engineers are practical people. If there’s no economic cost to flaring, then it’s not waste to them.
That’s why this is reason number 42,659 for putting a price on carbon. Methane combustion yields about 2.74 tons of CO2 per ton of methane, so it has an effective global warming potential of 2.74. That means a carbon price of $40/ton of CO2 would be about $110/ton of methane.
At that price, would smart oil and gas engineers figure out ways to eliminate flaring?