OGEL Call for papers: Special Issue on "Law and Policy for Gas Flaring in a Low-carbon Economy"
14 October 2020
Oil, Gas, and Energy Law Intelligence (www.ogel.org) invites submissions for a Special Issue on "Law and Policy for Gas Flaring in a Low-carbon Economy". The guest editors of this special is Dr. Tade Oyewunmi, Assistant Professor of Law and Senior Energy Research Fellow at the Institute for Energy and the Environment, Vermont Law School, USA; and Mohamed Rali Badissy, Assistant Professor of Law at Penn State Dickinson Law, USA.
The natural gas value chain through production, processing, transportation, and supply networks has proven to be an essential to delivering reliable energy for several decades. It has also played a unique role in energy decarbonization over the years by replacing the more carbon-intensive sources such as oil and coal. Depending on the respective local market structures and regulatory framework, natural gas and by-products such as LPG, propane, and cooking gas have also been a source of scalable and affordable energy in various economic sectors such as agriculture, transportation, and residential uses. Despite its benefits, which also underpins the trajectory for growth in the demand outlook for gas internationally and applicable local context, it faces considerable challenges in an evolving low to a zero-carbon economy. One of the most pressing in this regard relates to routine gas flaring. Especially the environmental implications, economic waste, and finding the most efficient regulatory package to deal with the menace of flaring.
During oil production, the associated natural gas is often flared when economic, regulatory, or technical barriers to utilization via gas markets and infrastructure creates bottlenecks. Another common reason includes when operational or technical challenges to reinjection of the associated gas back into the reservoir arises. Thus, upstream gas operators may resort to flaring: (1) for technical reasons e.g. during flow back in a hydraulic fracturing operation in which an injected slurry of water, proppant, and chemicals flow back through the wellbore; or (2) when midstream pipeline companies face delays and uncertainties regarding pipelines and processing facilities to evacuate the gas to an offtaker downstream. Rather than shut down a producing oil and gas well, which will stop the production of other 'valuable' resources, the unconnected and uncontracted gas volumes (often referred to as "waste gas" or "flare gas") are evacuated through flare stacks, then ignited and combusted. Such combustion leads to emissions of carbon dioxide and water, while methane, the major component of natural gas, is also released if there is incomplete combustion.
According to the World Bank's Global Gas Flaring Tracker Report of July 2020, about 150 billion cubic meters (bcm) was flared in 2019 which is equivalent to the total annual gas consumption of Sub-Saharan Africa. Between 2018 and 2019, there were reported increases in the United States (up by 23%), where oil production increased by 20%; Venezuela (up by 16%), where oil production decreased by nearly 40%; and Russia (up by 9%), where oil production remained flat. Gas flaring in fragile or conflict-affected countries increased from 2018 to 2019, while the top four gas flaring countries (Russia, Iraq, the United States, and Iran) continue to account for almost half (45%) of all global gas flaring for three years running (2017-2019), suggesting there may be systematic and structural barriers to reducing gas flaring practices in these countries. There are different approaches and policies adopted by different countries in dealing with the menace. Countries such as Nigeria have seen reductions in flaring and have recently adopted a more market-based approach in the Nigeria Gas Flare Commercialisation Programme (NGFCP). Other countries such as the US, have a mix of an industry-led approach policy, including a performance-based 'standard-setting' regulatory framework depending on the State or Federal Government institution's disposition. Notably, the gas flaring in the US reduced in the first quarter of 2020, by 1.2 bcm even while oil production continued to increase, largely due to improved utilization of associated gas. Some of the other approaches often recommended include developing a strong governance structure and a firm commitment to (i) reduce and eliminate routine flaring; (ii) ensuring that wells do not go online until gas takeaway is in place, and (iii) best-in-class practices to ensure flare functionality and reduced vapor emissions.
The Special Issue aims to examine and discuss the legal, regulatory and economic implications of gas flaring in the evolving low-carbon contexts globally and selected countries and regions. It seeks to highlight best practices and solutions to the identified challenges. In particular, this OGEL special will consider the following suggested (non-exhaustive) list topics on which papers are invited:
- Law and policy framework for gas market development and curbing routine flaring in key jurisdictions such as the US, Canada, Russia, Nigeria, and including countries in South America, and the North Africa and the Middle East (NEMA) region.
- A comparative assessment of best practices in developing oil and gas resources and addressing the challenge of flaring.
- The systematic and structural barriers to reducing gas flaring practices in the selected countries and regions.
- Environmental considerations and the mitigation of costs and impacts from gas flaring and venting.
- Understanding the natural gas development and supply value chain.
- An examination of pipeline and midstream constraints on upstream flaring.
- Policy initiatives and options for emerging gas producers in regulating gas flaring and venting.
- Opportunities and measures for gas flare prevention and commercialization.
The minimum word count of articles should be 5000 words (excluding footnotes, endnotes, appendices, tables, summary etc.). Articles should include summaries (150-200 words). The layout of the articles should conform to OGEL's submission guidelines available at: www.ogel.org/contribute.asp (more information available upon request). For citation style please follow "The Oxford University Standard for Citation of Legal Authorities" (OSCOLA) or the Bluebook Referencing Style.
Feel free to forward this call for papers to colleagues who may be interested in contributing to the special issue.
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