A wasted resource today

Today about 70 per cent of all natural gas produced in Iraq is flared, rather than captured.

Enough to provide electricity for more than 15 million homes if it was captured and used.

In addition, enough LPG is lost through flaring in Iraq to fill around 250,000 LPG cylinders per day.

This flaring is a significant waste of Iraq’s natural resources. Many parts of the country suffer from inadequate supplies of power. People are less comfortable in their homes, and there is less power available for businesses to grow and develop the economy. Iraq has to import LPG, rather than being self-sufficient or even exporting a surplus to generate revenue.

The value of all the natural gas flared in Iraq is thought to be $7 million per day . Or $500 in the time it takes to read this paragraph. That does not include the opportunity cost of the oil which is used to generate electricity instead of natural gas. If it was not used for power generation, this oil could be exported.

Flaring is also a heavy environmental burden. It contributes to greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming. Iraq’s flaring generates around 20 million tonnes per year of CO2 emissions, the equivalent of 90,000 flights from Basrah to Hong Kong or the use of 3.5 million cars.

Iraqi engineers have long been aware of the potential of natural gas. The country began to invest in large-scale gas processing facilities in the 1980s.

Despite the strenuous efforts of Iraq’s engineers to build and maintain the country’s natural gas infrastructure, three decades of sanctions and war mean that it is inadequate and in various states of disrepair.

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