UK offshore flaring on downward path

March 4, 2022
Flaring in the UK North Sea fell by 19% last year, according to the Oil and Gas Authority.

Offshore staff

LONDON – Flaring in the UK North Sea fell by 19% last year, according to the Oil and Gas Authority (OGA), with a 22% decrease reported so far in 2022.

Operators reduced overall flaring from offshore production facilities by 6 bcf to 26 bcf. Flaring volumes last June represented an all-time monthly low for the UK sector.

And for the fourth consecutive year, offshore flaring intensity also decreased, to 90 cf/bbl in 2021 – an 11-year low for the amount of gas flared per unit of oil.

Overall venting was 24% lower, with venting of inert gases (mainly carbon dioxide) 29% lower and methane 8% lower.

The OGA claims its initiatives contributed to the reductions, with the organization using new guidance, its consenting regime, active stewardship, monitoring, benchmarking and reporting to drive down flaring and venting and, where possible, eliminate them.

It expects the UK offshore industry to achieve zero routine flaring and venting by 2030 or earlier, with all new field developments designed to accommodate zero routine flaring and venting.

Operators’ requests for flaring and venting consents for new field development plans and existing production are under close scrutiny, with the OGA able to halt operations if excessive levels are reached.

In one instance, the Authority insisted that a major operator reinstate a flare gas recovery system on a platform. In another, it helped identify a fault with valves on an installation where flaring is said to have become excessive. 

Last year’s flaring and venting reductions also coincided with planned maintenance shutdowns on multiple installations that had largely been postponed from 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.