As one of the largest emitters in the world, the oil and gas industry needs to apply more effort to greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction. Methane, as a potent GHG, could largely determine whether natural gas could serve as a bridging energy toward a sustainable future. In the past decade, oil and gas companies in China have significantly enhanced casing gas recovery and reduced large volume flaring (>2×104 m3/d). However, the remaining low- to mid-volume flaring gas was left for further recovery. Shale gas production in China has met a surge in the number of drilling wells. Those new wells were characterized by a relatively low gas production rate (<1×106 m3/d) in comparison with shale gas wells in the US. As a result, flaring gas during well completion needs to be recycled or used to enhance the gas recovery rate. In this study, we carried out a pilot demonstration project of flaring gas recovery to reduce GHG emissions in the Weiyuan shale gas region in Sichuan Province, China. We adopted the technical route of dehydration and natural gas compression. The recycled natural gas was transformed into compressed natural gas (CNG) and transported to the nearest CNG station for further use. The inlet gas pressure was between 2.85 and 5.82 MPa, and the outlet pressure was kept stable at around 20 MPa to meet the standard of CNG. The manufactured device also showed sound flexibility with the recovery rate between 523.22 and 1224.38 m3/h, which was 28–157% of the designed capacity. The combination of the molecular sieve with high capacity, post low-pressure dehydration, and the application of hydraulic piston in the compression system have guaranteed the equipment to meet the designed performance. The equipment applied in the pilot demonstration has well matched with the local transportation, gas composition, and surface engineering of the well completion. It has the potential of popularization and application in the shale gas tight gas regions in China. Other technical routes, such as small-scale gas to chemicals or natural gas hydrate, should be considered for industrial application for gas flowing rate less than 2×104 m3/d to ensure a further drive down of methane emission along the value chain.

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