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IEA Greenhouse Gas R&D Programme

Background to the Study


This review aims to assess the current understanding on reducing emissions from flaring in the oil and gas industry and to review literature on both the quantification of emissions and current mitigation strategies. IEAGHG published a technical review 2017-TR7 (Oct 2017) which studied emissions along the natural gas supply chain but flaring emissions were not included. This review aims to follow on from 2017-TR7 as a supplementary review on flaring emissions.


The flaring mitigation strategies currently in place are reviewed in this report including those by individual countries, company strategies and global schemes such as ‘Zero Routine Flaring by 2030’. This review summarises the current standing of quantification methods and concludes further research is needed on direct measurement from flaring stacks to support global satellite estimates. Annual data is being collected by World Bank and the GGFR which is greatly improving the global database on flaring emissions. Current mitigation plans are ambitious and progress is being made with GGFR data showing flaring has been in moderate decline from 2015-2017. Approximately 54% of global gas flaring is represented within the 71 governments that have to date signed up to the “Zero Routine Flaring by 2030” initiative.  

Key Messages


  • Even though oil production is still increasing annual global flaring emissions have been seen to reduce by approximately 20 billion m3 from 2004-2017.
  • The ‘Zero Flaring by 2030’ initiative has led to large emitters publically pledging the significantly reduce their emissions in the near future although some large companies and governments are yet to join.
  • Global estimates of greenhouse gas emissions associated with flaring have significantly improved since 2013 due to the work of NOAA and the GGFR and new satellites more accurate satellites being utilised.
  • Some improvements are still required but as direct measurements improve this in turn will allow for better calibration of current satellite data. Local direct quantification is driven by the host country’s policies and legislation. This still varies largely from country to country but for those already regulating many standards are available on how to accurately measure the flow rate from flaring stacks.
  • Calculating the emissions along the natural gas supply chain and incorporating flaring is challenging as flaring emissions are very site specific. When flaring is undertaken it is likely to produce a majority of the emissions across the supply chain and hence its mitigation is important in reaching long-term climate goals.
  • The ‘Zero Routine Flaring by 2030’ will be publishing annual summaries of emissions by each of its endorsers which alongside the GGFR global satellite data will provide an ongoing global database of flaring emissions. The progress of this initiative is important and will hopefully drive more stringent quantification, reporting and mitigation measures for local host countries.
The report is free to download.