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

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

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 Norwegian) 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 0.003 ppm per ppm CO2 and 0.26 ppm per ppm CH4, and the median C2H6 : CH4 ratio was measured to be 0.11 ppm ppm-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 onboard, such as diesel generators. The measurements in this work were used to estimate total emissions from the North Sea from gas flaring, of 1.4 Tg yr-1 CO2, 6.3 Gg yr-1 CH4, 1.7 Gg yr-1 C2H6, and 3.9 Gg yr-1 NOx.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAtmospheric Chemistry and Physics
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 5 Jan 2023


Dive into the research topics of 'Flaring efficiencies and NOx emission ratios measured for offshore oil and gas facilities in the North Sea'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this