Flaring efficiencies and NOx emission ratios measured for offshore oil and gas facilities in the North Sea

Jacob T. Shaw, Amy Foulds, Shona Wilde, Patrick Barker, Freya A. Squires, James Lee, Ruth Purvis, Ralph Burton, Ioana Colfescu, Stephen Mobbs, Samuel Cliff, Stéphane J.B. Bauguitte, Stuart Young, Stefan Schwietzke, Grant Allen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Gas flaring is a substantial global source of carbon emissions to atmosphere and is targeted as a route to mitigating the oil and gas sector carbon footprint due to the waste of resources involved. However, quantifying carbon emissions from flaring is resource-intensive, and no studies have yet assessed flaring emissions for offshore regions. In this work, we present carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), ethane (C2H6), and NOx (nitrogen oxide) data from 58 emission plumes identified as gas flaring, measured during aircraft campaigns over the North Sea (UK and Norway) in 2018 and 2019. Median combustion efficiency, the efficiency with which carbon in the flared gas is converted to CO2 in the emission plume, was 98.4% when accounting for C2H6 or 98.7% when only accounting for CH4. Higher combustion efficiencies were measured in the Norwegian sector of the North Sea compared with the UK sector. Destruction removal efficiencies (DREs), the efficiency with which an individual species is combusted, were 98.5% for CH4 and 97.9% for C2H6. Median NOx emission ratios were measured to be 0.003ppmppm-1CO2 and 0.26ppmppm-1CH4, and the median C2H6:CH4 ratio was measured to be 0.11ppmppm-1. The highest NOx emission ratios were observed from floating production storage and offloading (FPSO) vessels, although this could potentially be due to the presence of alternative NOx sources on board, such as diesel generators. The measurements in this work were used to estimate total emissions from the North Sea from gas flaring of 1.4Tgyr-1 CO2, 6.3Ggyr-1 CH4, 1.7Ggyr-1 C2H6 and 3.9Ggyr-1 NOx.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1491-1509
Number of pages19
JournalAtmospheric Chemistry and Physics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 26 Jan 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC) Oil and Gas Methane Science Studies (MSS) hosted by the United Nations Environment Programme. Funding was provided by the Environmental Defense Fund, the Oil and Gas Climate Initiative, the European Commission, and the CCAC (grant no. DTIE19-020). The aircraft data used in this publication were collected as part of two projects: the Demonstration Of A Comprehensive Approach To Monitoring Emissions From Oil and Gas Installations (AEOG) project (grant no. NE/R01451X/1) and the Methane Observations and Yearly Assessment (MOYA) project (grant no. NE/N015835/1), both funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC).

Publisher Copyright:
© Author(s) 2023.

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