IPI emphasizes health and safety in use of flare gas

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ISLAMABAD, February 17, 2021: Islamabad Policy Institute (IPI) on Wednesday cautioned against compromising on health and safety while allowing the use of flare gas for commercial purposes and emphasized that it should not be used in the transport sector.

IPI’s Energy Expert Dr Ilyas Fazil, while speaking at an in-house discussion on the various proposals for the use of flare gas, said that all health and safety requirements must be met before allowing the sale of the flare gas.

It should be recalled that Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority is holding a public hearing on Feb. 24 on an application for grant of license by Oil and Gas Development Company Ltd for sale of flare gas. The proposal to be discussed at the hearing is about the sale of flare gas to a third party that has entered into an agreement with another party for self-consumption.

Dr Fazil underscored that flare gas cannot be equated with natural gas for being technically very different from each other. Natural Gas is a naturally occurring hydrocarbon gas mixture consisting primarily (98% +) of Methane, but commonly including varying amounts of other higher alkanes, and sometimes a small percentage of carbon dioxide, nitrogen, hydrogen sulfide, or helium.

Meanwhile, flare gas is any flammable hydrocarbon gas which is disposed of by venting, flaring or safe burning. Flare Gas arises primarily from the Associated Gas from Oilfields and refers to gaseous hydrocarbon currently being flared and/or vented at oil & gas production and processing facilities mainly due to quality, technical, operational, and economic constraints.

Dr Fazil, in this regard, pointed to the Flared Gas Utilization Guidelines 2016; the Petroleum Concession Agreements between the oil field operators and the government; and the international practices.

The energy expert said the Regulator must have in its possession all relevant information – source of the flaring, the composition of the flare gas as well as the flare levels in tons per day – from the field operator before deciding any permissions. “It is hoped that the same has been provided to OGRA by the applicant for the purposes of the subject hearing,” he added.

Dr Fazil was of the opinion that use of flare gas as a transport fuel must not be allowed. He feared that using flare gas as CNG could expose public at large to unknown risk with unproven technology.

He said that for approving use of flare gas for transportation, there must be precedent of such usage elsewhere in the world and if that isn’t there then we need to develop the process/technology, legislate, and create standards for sustaining its safe and continued use.

He instead proposed use of flare gas for power generation.