Technical Information

Onshore Gas well flaring

The flaring of gas wells is the controlled burning of gas

Flaring is most commonly undertaken in regional Queensland as a well is brought into production or when gas processing plants are being tested or maintained.

The flaring system generally comprises a flare stack and pipes feeding the gas to the flare stack. Each flare is different, and the size and brightness of the flare are directly related to the composition and volume of gas. Flares can generate noise because of the volume and velocity of the gas passing through the flare stack.

The flaring system practised in Australia minimises the greenhouse gas impact of gas. This is preferable to cold venting, which is practised in the United States, where methane is vented to the atmosphere.

Why flare the gas wells?

Flaring is necessary for a number of reasons, including:

Testing

  • Testing is important in order to determine the pressure, flow and composition of the gas from the well.
  • Flaring at the well site can last for several days, until the flow of liquids and gas from the well and pressures are stabilised.
  • As the flow of gas increases over time, increasing the volume and potential visibility of flaring.

Safety

  • A flare is an important safety device, particularly at gas processing plants. If equipment or piping becomes over-pressured, special valves on the equipment automatically release gas through the piping to the flare stacks.

Maintenance

  • Flares are also operated temporarily as an outlet for gas during maintenance and equipment repairs.

In Queensland, all pilot production work, including flaring, is regulated under the Petroleum and Gas (Production and Safety) Act 2004, administered by the Department of Natural Resources and Mines.

The Petroleum and Gas Inspectorate in the department is responsible for regulating safety-related and technical-related compliance with this Act, which includes monitoring compliance with flaring requirements. Production testing of wells (when flaring may take place) requires departmental approval for any period longer than 30 days (up to a maximum of 13 months).

If you have a concern regarding flaring at a gas well or gas processing plants, please contact the Coal Seam Gas Compliance Unit (CSGCU) to investigate by email csg.enquiries@dnrm.qld.gov.au or phone 07 4529 1500.

For more information on flaring and the management of the CSG industry in Queensland, please view the CSG health and safety information for landholders page.