In exploration and production, flaring is the controlled burning of natural gases released from wells through a flare stack and pipes. An operator may choose to flare for safety reasons, or when pipeline transport is not available or economical. Flaring causes less environmental harm than releasing unburned gasses into the environment.

We operate our shale assets with the goal of eliminating the continuous flaring or release of hydrocarbons as a means of disposal, and to minimise necessary flaring for safety or emergency purposes. In line with our corporate standards, sites are advised to provide equipment/facilities to export, re-inject, or use the produced associated gas to eliminate continuous flaring. While some flaring could still occur for safety or emergency purposes and due to lack of pipeline capacity, our sites follow a flaring and venting management action plan when such activities are necessary.

Shell is part of World Bank’s Global Gas Flaring Reduction Partnership (GGFR), a public-private initiative, which seeks to remove technical and regulatory barriers to flaring reduction. As part of the partnership, the World Bank has developed the “Zero Routine Flaring by 2030” initiative, which Shell signed up for in 2015. This encourages governments, companies, and development organisations to work together to end the disposal of gas by flaring. The initiative aims to identify ways to use gas from oil production, for example, to generate electricity for local communities.

As we work toward achieving this goal, our Permian Basin asset continues to drive flaring reductions, and in September 2019, Shell completed flowback on eight Permian wells with no associated flaring, a first-time achievement. The continued reduction in flaring has positively impacted Permian’s GHG emissions with a 40% reduction in total GHG emissions and a 20% reduction in methane emissions, compared to the same period in 2018. Our Permian asset also obtained flaring reduction success from ongoing Vapor Recovery Unit upgrade projects and installation of Ecovapor technology.

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