UPDATED FEBRUARY 2023
What is flaring?
The production from the gas and oil fields in the North Sea consists of a mix of oil, gas and water.
The majority of the gas is transported to onshore facilities, while a small part is used as fuel on the platforms themselves. A tiny part of the gas is burned off in a controlled manner without being put to any use; this is known as “flaring”.
Flaring takes place via a special “flare stack” on the platforms.
Why is flaring necessary?
Flaring takes place on all Danish offshore platforms with processing facilities when it is necessary for safety reasons. Flaring is primarily done to prevent the build-up of high pressure at the facility, as this has the potential to cause fractures in pipes and tanks, which could result in uncontrolled gas leaks. Gas leaks and fractures in installations can naturally constitute a risk to safety.
Flaring is also carried out in connection with the operation of the production facilities, so-called routine flaring. Flaring can for example be necessary due to temporarily shut-down of installations on a platform. In this case, it may be necessary to reduce pressure in certain installations before they are maintained, repaired or inspected. Pipelines between fields likewise have to be inspected and cleaned at regular intervals, and here, in some cases, it is necessary to flare gas in order to empty the pipelines.
What are the legal regulations concerning flaring?
Section 10 of the Danish Subsoil Act (Undergrundsloven) states that exploration and extraction activities must be performed in a responsible and appropriate manner, and so as to prevent spillage of raw materials.This means that flaring – except for reasons of safety – should be avoided.Flaring at installations in the Danish Section of the North Sea is subject to the EU’s CO2 quota scheme.All oil and gas producers in the EU are covered by the EU's CO2 quota scheme. This means that producers must have quotas that correspond to CO2 emissions from production, including flaring. Flaring from the installations in the Danish Section of the North Sea is thus also covered by the EU's CO2 quota scheme.The quota scheme was established in 2005, when companies were allocated quotas. The share of quotas to be purchased has since gradually increased to almost 100% in 2021. The companies thus have a direct financial cost of flaring.An Act against routine flaring in Denmark becomes effective in July 2023.