Flaring, Venting, and Fugitive Methane Emissions

During oil production, associated gas is produced together with the oil. While much of this gas is utilized, some of it is routinely flared due to technical or economic constraints, resulting in the release of greenhouse gases such as 2 and methane. In 2017, to reinforce our clear commitment to responsible resource management and sustainable business, we endorsed the World Bank’s “Zero routine flaring by 2030” initiative to end routine flaring of associated gas during oil production by 2030. Phasing out routine flaring is an essential step in combining resource efficiency with long-term economic success, as well as a way of supporting the decarbonization of our operations. We see financial opportunities in the monetization of hydrocarbon resources by utilizing the previously flared gas and/or selling it. Phasing out routine flaring improves the environmental and safety conditions at our respective assets, thereby enabling us to not only maintain our license to operate but also avoid any penalties.

Reducing methane emissions from the routine/non-routine venting of gas during oil and gas production and processing, as well as from gas leaks, also contributes to slowing down climate change and provides a valuable mitigation option for climate risk management. Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas. It is the most abundant anthropogenic after CO2 and second in its overall contribution to climate change. Its greenhouse effect is significantly stronger in the short term, making it more potent than CO2. In our new climate strategy, we therefore also introduced a target for reducing methane emissions for the first time.

Management and Due Diligence Processes

Phasing Out Routine Flaring and Venting

Around 5% of OMV’s total direct GHG emissions and around 24% of OMV’s E&P GHG emissions result from routine flaring. With stricter policies requiring zero routine flaring expected, OMV has taken initial steps toward compliance by voluntarily endorsing the World Bank’s “Zero routine flaring by 2030” initiative. We report to the World Bank on our progress on this initiative annually. All OMV operations are required to minimize methane emissions from point sources, as well as fugitive emissions and technically avoidable emissions (such as well testing and well workover, among others). New production sites are developed with the appropriate gas utilization solutions in place and without routine flaring. Existing sites, where routine flaring of associated and free gas still occurs, are required to develop a phase-out plan to eliminate legacy routine flaring as soon as possible, but no later than 2030.

In our refineries, state-of-the-art plant design is implemented to avoid routine flaring, for example through the use of flare gas recovery and balancing the fuel gas systems. This type of advanced process control includes sufficient capacity for the flare gas recovery system, the use of high-integrity relief valves, and other economically viable organizational and control measures. All refineries use a flare gas recovery system to collect excess gas, which is desulphurized as required, pressurized, and added to the refinery fuel gas system as fuel for the process furnaces. As a result of such measures, we aim to use flaring as a safety system during unplanned operations, which include start-up, shutdown, emergency, process upsets, and others. At the Petrobrazi refinery in particular, the capacity for flare gas recovery has been increased over the past few years. Emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are minimized by applying the best available techniques (BATs) in such areas as hydrocarbon storage and tank seals according to implementation plans.

Fugitive Emissions Monitoring and Leak Detection and Repair

Fugitive methane emissions and other non-methane volatile organic compounds (NMVOCs) are monitored or estimated and controlled systematically with leak detection and repair () programs. Knowing the main potential sources of methane emissions also allows us to implement precautionary measures for preventing such emissions at new production assets. The minimum requirement for identifying leaks is conducting routine audio, visual, and olfactory inspections as part of daily operator rounds at all relevant OMV operating facilities. Leak detection also entails soap-bubble testing and optical gas imaging with defined scopes and intervals (annually or more frequently, as required in accordance with a corresponding risk assessment). At some facilities, infrared cameras are also used for leak detection. We also collaborate with third parties to further enhance state-of-the-art methane monitoring with technologies such as drones, satellite data, and acoustic leak imaging.

Leaks are repaired immediately or within defined time frames and, depending on prioritization, according to the site’s maintenance processes. These are based on the risk assessment outcomes and other factors including feasibility of repair during operation. To prevent and mitigate fugitive emissions, we have taken important steps, including implementing a pipeline integrity program and modernizing facilities such as compressor stations.

2022 Actions

Decarbonization Initiatives

  • At our Māui Platform A in New Zealand, the low-pressure produced water (PW) system is designed to vent produced water flash gas into the atmosphere. The produced water disposal route has now been changed to reinject the water straight down the reinjection well. This reduces flash gas dispersal into the atmosphere. This scheme also reduces flare gas from the blanket gas on the PW separators, and reduces the power demand (i.e., fuel gas consumption) associated with the PW transfer pumps. These modifications were implemented on the site in July 2022 and save approx. 800 t CO2/year.
  • In Tunisia, a few modifications and updates were made at the Waha Central Processing Facility to continue the phase-out of routine flaring and venting. These included the installation of a chilling unit to comply with Nawara pipeline gas specifications and enable the routing of Waha gas to the Nawara pipeline during upsets or gas export limitations being imposed on Waha clients’ facilities. In the past, whenever such situations were faced, the Waha dry gas was totally or partially flared, but that is no longer the case. In addition, the settings of the vapor recovery units (VRUs) were finetuned to handle additional gas volume and slugs. This ensures that more associated gas is recovered by rerouting it to the VRU and then to the gas lift manifold, instead of flaring it. Furthermore, the installation of harmonic filters in the AGP (Anaguid Gathering Point/Plant) has been completed and improved the quality and stability of the power network, allowing the AGP to be fed by the main power generator and improving the energy efficiency of the overall system. For Waha alone, an approx. 50% reduction in flared gas was achieved through the above-mentioned improvements.
  • In Austria, a zero-emissions project was implemented at the Bad Pirawarth asset. Some modifications were made to bypass the tanks where methane release had been detected and quantified. An estimated amount of 120 t of methane emissions (3,000 t CO2e) was prevented.
  • At OMV Petrom, several initiatives to reduce methane emissions, routine venting, and flaring were undertaken and finalized in 2022, many of which focused on upgrading the compressor stations. Within OMV Petrom E&P, modernizing, replacing, and/or optimizing gas processing and transportation infrastructure contributed to the reduction of flaring, venting, and fugitive methane emissions. For example, in late 2022, a new gas treatment station for low-temperature separation (LTS) at the Icoana compressor station (E&P Valahia asset) was brought on stream. As a result, gas that would normally be flared is captured and made available for sale. Consequently, GHG emissions will be reduced by an estimated 24,000 t CO2e from 2023 onward due to the elimination of routine flaring. Additional operational measures for optimizing flows and processes in OMV Petrom E&P operations, e.g., rerouting gas flows and optimizing turnarounds, also contributed to the significant reduction of venting and flaring volumes.

Leak Detection and Repair

In 2022, we continued to implement leak detection and repair (LDAR) programs to reduce our fugitive emissions. Important steps have been taken to prevent and mitigate fugitive emissions, such as the pipeline integrity program in E&P and the LDAR program in both E&P and R&M. An LDAR program includes two fundamental steps: first, the identification of the leaking components and second, the repair of these leaks to minimize losses. This program serves as the basis for developing reduction projects in accordance with best practices in the industry and using the best available technologies.

In late 2021, the non-profit Clean Air Task Force (CATF) measured methane leaks at OMV sites, fifty of which were at OMV Petrom sites, using a specialized optical gas imag­ing infrared camera (e.g., FLIR GF320). Following their report, OMV Petrom launched an investigation and immediate action was taken to stop the leaks during 2022. Over the past ten years, OMV Petrom has invested more than EUR 1 bn in modernizing the upstream production infrastructure, including measures to reduce methane emissions. In addition, LDAR programs are routinely run in both upstream and downstream to detect, prevent, and eliminate fugitive emissions.

Overall methane emissions at OMV Petrom were reduced by 69% in 2022 vs. 2019. We will continue to allocate substantial funds to focusing on the upgrade of our facilities to closed production systems. As a prerequisite for our methane reduction measures, we prioritize monitoring and measuring emissions. In 2022, OMV Petrom E&P continued the relevant actions within the Measuring, Reporting, and Verification (MRV) program.

Methane Reporting

The upcoming methane legislation will introduce stringent requirements for methane leak detection and repair programs. In E&P, OMV has already started taking important steps toward compliance with the EU methane reporting requirements. The Ops CH4llenge Program is an internal program within E&P operations at OMV Petrom that was set up in 2022 with the purpose of preparing the operations’ organization for the upcoming EU Regulation on methane. Specific products and work packages that address the main requirements of the proposed Regulation have been defined and are being developed. Among them, a pilot project for the detection and quantification of methane emissions in selected clusters of facilities and wells from three assets in Romania was kicked off in 2022 and will be completed in early 2023. The detection and quantification services were performed by third-party specialized contractors. This enabled us to achieve the following reporting levels:

  • Source-level methane emissions for operated assets by direct measurements and sampling to establish the specific emission factors
  • Source-level methane emissions for operated assets complemented by measurements of site-level methane emissions, thereby allowing assessment and verification of the source-level estimates aggregated by site


In 2023, OMV will continue to pursue projects to further phase out routine flaring and venting, reduce Scope 1 emissions, and expand and intensify our LDAR campaigns. For example, in Tunisia, an campaign has been planned. At the Auersthal Gas Compressor Station in Austria, two gas turbines (i.e., in the baseload and booster compressors) will be replaced with e-motors/electric drives to reduce fuel gas consumption. As a result, approx. 35,000 t 2e will be saved annually. Through power centralization, field electrification, and installation of two trunklines that will connect the Early Production Facility (EPF) to the Central Processing Facility (CPF), a reduction in flaring of approx. 6% has been calculated, which will result in savings of 13,500 t CO2e annually.

In general, we will focus on reducing fugitive methane emissions through process optimization, field modernization, and integrity improvement measures in E&P. We continue to define and implement methane leakage, detection, and repair programs in all operated E&P assets, as well as establishing standard methane reporting with the required granularity (e.g., source level, site level).

Target 2025

  • Achieve an E&P methane intensity1 Methane intensity refers to the volume of methane emissions from OMV’s E&P-operated oil and gas assets as a percentage of the volume of the total gas that goes to market from those operations. This is calculated as methane intensity [%] = methane emissions [Sm3] / marketed gas (sales) [Sm3]. of 0.2% or lower

Targets 2030

  • Achieve an E&P methane intensity of 0.1% or lower
  • Zero routine flaring and venting of associated gas as soon as possible, but no later than 2030

Status 2022

  • 0.4% E&P methane intensity
  • Volume of gas routinely flared and vented decreased from 430 m3 in 2021 to 240 mn m3 in 2022

Most relevant SDG

SDG target:
13.1 Strengthen resilience and adaptive capacity to climate-related hazards and natural disasters in all countries

1 Methane intensity refers to the volume of methane emissions from OMV’s E&P-operated oil and gas assets as a percentage of the volume of the total gas that goes to market from those operations. This is calculated as methane intensity [%] = methane emissions [Sm3] / marketed gas (sales) [Sm3].

carbon dioxide
greenhouse gas
Leak Detection and Repair
European Union
Leak Detection and Repair
carbon dioxide