Preserving the Environment
Preserving the Environment
Reducing the Flaring of Associated Gas
In 2010, flaring of associated gas accounted for nearly 30% of our greenhouse gas emissions. We have made a commitment to cut flaring in half between 2005 and 2014. It meets the dual imperative of reducing our emissions and commoditizing a valuable energy source wherever possible.
Oil production is usually accompanied by the production of "associated gas."
Associated gas is often recovered as an energy source used directly by the production facilities or monetized (sold).
However, it is sometimes necessary to burn the gas in purpose-designed units called flares, particularly in the following cases:
- For safety reasons, gas can be flared to relief pressure on the system quickly in case of emergency or during maintenance. That's why a a surveillance device allows flares, in case of problem or of excess, to fire the evacuated gas instantly. Without the flare and the flame, a hazardous gas build-up could occur.
- During specific, non-routine operations, such as well tests or start-ups of new installations, the gas is flared until gas with the required properties (for transportation or re-use) is obtained.
- Where, for technical or financial reasons, the gas cannot be commoditized. This has historically been the case when the volume and/or quality of the gas has not justified investing in infrastructure allowing it to be used locally or transported. It is this latter category of continuous flaringă€€-ă€€which represents the largest quantityă€€-ă€€that is the priority focus of our efforts today.
What Total is Doing
A member of the World Bank's Global Gas Flaring Reduction partnership since 2005, we voluntarily pledged to halve flaring at our operated sites between 2005 and 2014.
As far back as 2000, we made the decision to eliminate continuous flaring on all new projects. This policy has guided the design of all our recent projects, such as Akpo in Nigeria, which came on stream in 2009; Pazflor in Angola, which is under construction; and CLOV in Angola, whose development began in late 2010.
Since 2006, we have also scaled back flaring at our existing installations. This has entailed improving the reliability of existing equipment and installing new equipment.
Making the Right Choice for the Local Situation
We are pursuing three main avenues for reducing gas flaring, deployed in line with the context:
- Using the gas locally, for instance in the production facilities or by selling it to local industry.
- Reinjecting surplus gas into the reservoirs, where this is technically feasible. This solution can also improve the recovery rate of oil in place.
- When large quantities of gas are discovered in the production area, converting it to liquefied natural gas (LNG) and shipping it to demand centers.
On the Amenam offshore field in Nigeria, for example, a third of the gas is reinjected and the remainder is piped to the Nigeria LNG plant on Bonny Island.
However, technical and other factors can hinder the deployment of these solutions; for instance, retrofitting existing facilities requires substantial capital expenditure and work.
In addition, these costly projects require the agreement of all partners.