Doha: Middle Eastern and North African (Mena) countries are flaring natural gas worth as much as $10 billion every year, a World Bank body said on Wednesday.

The Global Gas Flaring Reduction (GGFR) unit of the World Bank urged Gulf oil producers to join a programme to reduce emissions caused when gas, which is found when extracting oil and is thought too hard or costly to get to market, is flared off.

About 150 billion to 170 billion cubic metres of gas is flared annually, adding about 400 million tonnes of greenhouse gases in annual emissions, GGFR said at an industry conference.

The Middle East and North Africa contribute about a third of the world’s total, second only to Russia. “My calculations [on the value] are about $10 billion,” Bent Svensson, GGFR’s manager, said on the sidelines of a gas conference in Qatar. “Each cubic metre of gas flared is a waste of resources that also generates two kg of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.”

Set up in 2002, the GGFR assists countries, international and national oil companies in reducing flaring. Gulf countries have yet to join the group, Svensson told a news conference.

With almost all Gulf countries facing a gas crisis with the exception of Qatar – the world’s third largest exporter of liquefied natural gas – the flared gas could be used for reinjection or feedstock in the petrochemicals sector or desalination, Svensson said.

Qatar and Kuwait are expected to sign up soon, Svensson said, adding that he also expected Oman and Saudi Arabia to join. Joining up would see countries commit to targets to reduce flaring.

About 150 billion to 170 billion cubic metres of gas is flared annually, adding about 400 million tonnes of greenhouse gases in annual emissions.

(Gulf News)