Gas is an extremely popular form of energy and is growing in popularity, especially due to decreasing natural gas prices. One form of gas extraction which is growing in use is shale gas. However, the increasing use of shale oil is leading to increased emissions from byproduct gas which is alarming environmentalists.
Gas flaring is the main culprit of concern. Flaring occurs when pressure needs to relieved or gas from exploration sites are needed to be removed. Exploration for shale oil is a major contributor to gas flaring and is on the rise, especially in the United States. U.S. exploration for shale oil in the state of North Dakota has subsequently added the U.S. to the list of major gas flaring countries of the world.
Exploration for shale oil in North Dakota is being pointed to for the recent rise in gas flaming globally according to the World Bank, a statistic which had declined in 2006 with little increases since. However, 2011 showed a significant increase in gas flaring, a statistic which increased from 134 billion cubic meters in 2010 to 140 billion cubic meters in 2011.
Gas flaring has been estimated to contribute approximately 4.5 percent to global industrial emissions. 360 million metric tons of carbon dioxide is put into the environment each year due to gas flaring, according to the World Bank. This level of emissions is equivalent to seventy million cars each year.
In addition to global environmental issues, the flaring of gas is considered an issue for those living near the procedures as well. Nigeria, a major gas flaring country, is said to suffer from acid rain in areas near to gas flaring sites. Organizations there indicate that the industry is leading to a number of illnesses for the local population.
The amount of gas flaring which occurs globally is worth approximately $100 billion in oil. The gas flaring most often occurs in countries which suffer from power supply issues, such as Nigeria, a problem which could be resolved by storing the gas rather than flaring it, according to experts. If countries would save rather than burn the additional gas it could result in less emissions and fewer power and/or economic issues for countries known for gas flaring.