are part of the safety systems installed at wellheads, processing plants and gas refineries. If there are elevated levels of combustible gases resulting from overpressure, or process upsets, or other potential safety hazards, then natural gas is piped to a remote location and burned off.
The amount of gas that is flared in the United States has doubled since 2000, due to an increasing amount of flaring in states such as Wyoming and North Dakota. Because of lower natural gas prices and an abundance of natural gas supply, it is often more cost effective to flare gas than product it.
Types of flares
Several types of flares are used depending on the situation.
- Solution gas flares are used to dispose of natural gas, which is recovered and transferred by a pipe to a processing facility. These flares are used at facilities where production occurs with more wells than one.
- Gas plant flares are used to remove water, carbon dioxide and natural gas liquids from the raw natural gas. These flares are used to dispose of the unusable gas. The gas plants that use these flares also burn off the gas safely in case of an emergency or during unusual conditions.
- Well test flares are used during drilling and when oil and gas wells are tested. These flares are usually used to determine what kinds of fluid will be found in a well.