India is in initial talks with Iraq to discuss the possibility of building liquefaction facilities in the latter country to convert flared gas to liquified natural gas (LNG), a government official told media outlet the Indian Express

On 20 June, the two countries met during the 18th India-Iraq Joint Commission Meeting in New Delhi.

According to the government statement, Indian Union Minister of Petroleum & Natural Gas Hardeep Singh Puri highlighted the “natural and traditional synergies which exist between the two countries, on account of India’s position as the growing energy demand centre of the world”. 

Puri mentioned that several Indian companies are ready to explore investment opportunities in Iraq while upgrading the infrastructure of oil and gas facilities. During the meeting, the two countries agreed to extend their relationship from buyer-seller to an energy partnership, covering investments, trade and engineering, procurement and construction services. 

The minister has also expressed the country’s interest in reducing natural gas imports and greenhouse gas emissions.

He added: “The Government of India has set a target to increase the share of gas in the energy mix up to 15% in 2030 to make India a gas-based economy.”

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In a release on 7 July, Puri said: “Presently, we are importing around 50% of our requirement of natural gas”. This is also why Indian oil and other companies want to collaborate with other countries to develop gas liquefaction overseas and LNG export projects. 

Natural gas flaring has been a prevalent problem for the past decade. According to a recent analysis from the World Bank’s Global Gas Flaring Reduction partnership, gas flaring resulted in almost 400 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions globally in 2021. 

Dangerous gas flaring in Iraq

Iraq is one of the biggest gas flaring contributors in the world but needs development in capturing and processing the gas to convert to other fuels or LNG. 

According to an independent research organisation Greenpeace, gas flaring in Iraq has been out of control as oil and gas majors made millions of dollars. The BBC’s investigation found high levels of potentially cancer-causing chemicals in Iraqi communities near oil fields where gas flaring occurs.

Greenpeace’s “unearthed” investigation observed, “Some locals fear that pollution from flaring is contributing to high rates of leukaemia and other cancers among those living in nearby towns. Meanwhile, the methane released by the process is a huge problem for the climate.”

According to the IEA flaring figures, Iraq was one of the four largest contributors of gas flaring in 2019, along with the US, Russia and Iran. According to the Indian Express, Iraq has committed to reducing gas flaring at its facilities while Indian companies have been looking to build liquefaction plants in foreign countries. 

“Iraq flares a lot of natural gas and we are a large importer of gas. So, we are exploring if our companies can set up plants in Iraq to liquefy that gas into LNG,” an anonymous source told the Indian Express