Flaring is the process of burning off excess gas from an oil or gas well or refinery. This process prevents a release of hydrocarbon into the atmosphere, which would create a risk of explosion. Excess gas is produced by pressure relief devices on the production facility, which could be activated during startup or shutdown activities or unplanned interruptions to the operation.
The process of flaring is common and something you see everyday when driving past a refinery with a flare stack. This is the chimney-like stack which has a continuous burning flame at the top. The flare stake is the equivalent of the smoke stack in other factories.
Trenchlesspedia Explains Flaring
Flaring is part of the environmental and safety processes of an oil and gas facility. Any release of hydrocarbons must be done in a controlled manner in which the risk of injury or environmental damage is minimised. Safety systems are designed to release gases to the flare so that they can be burnt up as they are released. Some flare systems are implemented for economic reasons.
Gas is burned while crude oil is recovered for the market. This is done because it is too costly to implement a recovery network of piping for the gas. However, legislative pressure is increasing the requirement to collect hydrocarbons rather than release them into the atmosphere by flaring.