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Natural gas is produced as a byproduct of oil drilling. Harnessing this gas for consumption is not always economically viable for oil producers. In these cases, the oil producer burns the gas on-site in a process called flaring.
Gas flaring creates emissions without deriving any utility. In addition, the flaring process releases higher amounts of methane into the air than using the gas to generate electricity.
Oil depressurizes on the surface into liquids and gas (primarily methane) in oil extraction. Gas is worth less than oil by volume and is more difficult to transport, so most oil companies consider the gas a cost center. If the oilfield is located close to population centers, it might be economically feasible to build pipelines and transport the gas for usage as electricity or heating. But in many oil drilling locations, this is not the case. The oil producer then chooses to dispatch the gas in the most cost-effective way, which is simply burning the gas in a process called gas flaring.