What is Gas Flaring? Learn from the Experts!

Gas flaring is a polluting method that allows oil & gas plants or refineries to control possibly volatile and extreme high-pressure variations of gases, it still remains an option due to economic, technical, regulatory, and safety reasons.


Gas flaring is a practice that consists in burning the associated natural gas flaring generated from oil producing during numerous industrial operations refining processes or petrochemical production.

As a consequence, this practice frequently occurs in refineries or oil, chemical, and natural gas plants, as well as in crude oil or natural gas production sites that include oil wells, natural gas wells, and offshore drilling rigs.

Whether upstream, midstream, or downstream, facilities can use flares to destroy waste gases safely and efficiently, however the combustion process still emits some amounts of harmful Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs). As a result, gas flaring is one of the most significant contributors to the increase of greenhouse emissions, and constitutes an environmental concern.




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Composition of the gas flaring

Flare gas composition can vary according to the involved processes. In refineries, gases are often composed by variable quantities of hydrocarbons, carbon dyoxhide and other variable hydrocarbons.

Generally, there is no fixed composition as the sources can convey many different processes. It is possible to distinguish more acid gases, rich in H2S in processes like flare gas recovery systems and vapor recovery units. Finally, gas flaring activities can often contain particles, dust or contaminants.

Why Gas Flaring takes place?

Although gas flaring is a polluting method that allows oil & gas plants or refineries to control possibly volatile and extreme high-pressure variations of gases, it still remains an option due to economic, technical, regulatory, and safety reasons.

Often time, operators opt for this practice, as it would be simply too much expensive to try to recover the associated gasses. The first reason is that trapping the gases and utilizing them in a productive manner is logistically demanding and inefficient. As oil fields are usually located in places that are difficult to access, and they are not able to produce consistent volumes of gases, transporting them to where it can be utilized is a demanding process.

On top of it, oil production sites are often spread over a large area, which means that capturing and utilizing the associated gas can be extremely difficult. Therefore, gas flaring is still viewed as the best option. In addition to the above reasons, some countries have regulations, which make the selling associated gases very difficult or simply allows the gas flaring without any major limitation.

When it comes to safety aspects, burning any excess gas through gas flaring allows operators to manage those unpredictable situations.

Some examples are:

  • Pressure relief to prevent the risk of explosions by venting reactive & dangerous gases
  • Controlled combustion of VOCs
  • Waste product removal in refining or petrochemical production processes

How Does Gas Flaring Influence the Environment?

When talking numbers, each cubic meter of associated gas equals 2.5 kilograms of carbon dioxide emissions, which translates to 400 million tons of CO2 emissions annually, so that it is important to find a way to reduce emissions. Additionally, flaring also emits a significant amount of methane, which contributes to global warming.

Apart from greenhouse gases like dioxide and methane, gas flaring releases black carbon (soot). It appears a result of incomplete combustion efficiency of fossil fuels. Although it does not stay in the air for a long time (around a few days or weeks), black carbon has one of the largest warming effects on the atmosphere. So that, gas companies need to reduce flare and environmental emissions.

How to Reuse Gas Flaring?

In order to contrast the negative effects of gas flaring on the environment, governments and international organizations introduced severe limitations to contrast flaring. Based on the Kyoto protocol, incentives are provided for the construction of low environmental impact plants that allow, at the same time, not to waste a precious resource.

There are various valid ways of reusing these gases:

  1. Power generation – flare gas can be conveyed to gas or steam driven turbines for heat and electricity generation
  2. Reinjection – flare gas can be reinjected into aged wells to maintain pressure and production outputs
  3. Feedstock – once recovered the gases can be reused as raw material especially in the production of petrochemicals.
  4. Liquefaction


GARO How the flare gas recovery works

Methods for Recovering Flare Gases

An essential component aimed at the recovery of gas flaring is the Flare Gas Recovery System (FGRS), which is a compression unit that has the aim of taking the gas coming from the gas/liquid separator (knock out drum) before it reaches the flare stack. The FGRS compress the gas and send it to the washing towers for the cleaning processes.

After that, the clean gas can be reused as described above. Applying an FGR System can bring numerous benefits:

  • Flare gas has a high heating value, meaning that it can be utilized as a fuel within the plant, lowering fuel costs by reducing the amount of fuel used,
  • Even with an FGR implemented, gas flaring will still need to be performed though in a limited manner for safety reasons. However, a reduction in gas flaring can not only extend the life of the flare tip, but also reduce the maintenance and utility costs associated with flaring,
  • FGR systems reduce the amount of smoke, thermal radiation, noise, and pollutants that are released into the atmosphere as a result of gas flaring.

Garo Liquid Ring Compressors for Flare Gas Recovery

At Garo, we have been constructing liquid ring compressors, ideal for handling gases and vapors with a high concentration of Hydrogen Sulfide (H2S) or Carbon Dioxide (CO2). Capable of reducing the amount of toxic gas released into the atmosphere, Garo’s Flare Gas Recovery Systems help operators meet their goals of reducing pollution.

Valuable high heat gas can be recovered and used in multiple ways: as a fuel within a plant, reused as feedstock, or sold as a separate product, and at the same time, boost your facility's environmental credentials. With our latest evolution of the FGRS, WAIS (Washing Amine Integrated System), our liquid ring compressors are capable of compressing and cleaning gases simultaneously during a standard compression cycle. See our Flare Gas Recovery Systems page to discover how Garo can help you eliminate gas flaring.