Five percent of the world's gas supply is currently being wasted through flaring and venting. This is equivalent to about 110-140 billion cubic metres of gas which is the combined gas consumption of Central and South America in 2014. Gas flaring releases toxic components and green-house gases into the atmosphere that can have harmful effects on the health and well-being of local communities and contribute to climate change. In 2011, the USA became the fifth largest flaring nation in the world due to associated gas being flared from oil field production with the largest amounts being flared in North Dakota.
Capture of flared gas presents an opportunity to reduce the environmental impact as well as providing an economic opportunity. The gas captured can be used to create new value chains that can not only benefit the industry but also people's quality of life.
Technology has been developing for many years to attempt to tackle the problem specifically where small volumes of gas are being flared. In 2014, regulations in the USA were tightened on gas flaring specifically in North Dakota with oil operators having to put in gas capture plans in place for new oil wells being drilled. Capturing the flared gas presents an opportunity for oil operators to reduce the environmental impact as well as providing an economic opportunity to generate an additional revenue stream.
During 2014/2015, break-throughs were made by new suppliers coming into the market who have successfully installed new micro-LNG technology in North America to eliminate gas flaring at the well-head. Costs of the these micro-LNG technologies have reduced to the point whereby it is now possible to install these technologies cost effectively converting gas streams of less than 1 MMscfd into LNG which can either be utilised locally for drilling rigs or transported by truck to users further away.
The paper will present a range of technologies, including micro LNG, Compressed Natural Gas, Natural Gas Hydrates (NGHs), conversion methods and novel concepts that could be applied to capture and utilise flared and vented gas. It will look at the techno-economic concepts of specific cases at small scale. New features of the technologies will be highlighted and economics will also be given for the different technology options.