Flaring involves burning the gas that escapes during the crude extraction process, a very polluting practice.
Iraq on Sunday kicked off a new project to exploit gas flaring from two oil fields in the south of the country, the second in the world to use this highly polluting practice. The new project, signed in 2017 with the American multinational Baker Hugues, should eventually make it possible to recover 200 million cubic feet (approximately 5.6 million cubic meters) per day of gas flared on the two oil fields of Nassiriya and Gharaf, according to a statement from the Ministry of Petroleum sent to the press on Sunday.
Flaring involves burning the gas that escapes during the crude extraction process, a practice considered to be a significant source of air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. Oil companies burn gas because it is much cheaper than processing it to market it.
An official of the ministry explained to AFP that it will be necessary to wait 30 months and the completion of the infrastructure works before the effective implementation of the project, to be able to exploit the flared gas. The project is intended to “exploit the gas which escapes from all the oil fields in all Iraq, to consolidate the national gas production and to preserve a clean environment”, indicated the minister Ihssan Ismaïl quoted by the press release. According to the World Bank, Iraq is the second country in the world to use this practice, behind Russia and ahead of Iran and the United States. In 2020, the volume of gas flared in Iraq stood at 17.374 million cubic meters per year, according to the World Bank.
At the beginning of September, Iraq signed a new agreement with TotalEnergies, notably providing for an investment of 10 billion dollars in infrastructure. The group will invest in facilities “to recover gas flared on three oil fields” in order to generate electricity (initial capacity of 1.5 gigawatt, then 3 GW), and the construction of a solar power plant in ‘a capacity of 1 GW to supply the region of Basra (south).
These initiatives come at a time when Iraq is ultra-dependent for energy on its Iranian neighbor, which supplies it with a third of its gas and electricity needs. Costly dependency: Baghdad owes Tehran six billion dollars for its energy supply. Iraq has immense hydrocarbon reserves. It is the second country in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), and black gold accounts for more than 90% of its revenues. But he is facing an acute energy crisis and experiences incessant blackouts, which fuel social discontent.