Iraq commitment to capture flare gas sparks crypto mining speculation

By Cointelegraph
about 1 month ago
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Iraq’s Deputy Prime Minister, Muhammad Ali Tamim, recently co-chaired a U.S.-Iraq Higher Coordinating Committee meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken to discuss the future partnership between the two nations. 

During the meeting, Deputy Prime Minister Tamim stated clearly that it was Iraq’s goal to reduce its dependence on fossil fuels, lower pollution, and engage in new partnerships to develop and employ technology to capture “flare gas,” a byproduct of the oil field industry considered a poisonous pollutant.

"The Iraqi Government is widening its partnership and conducting agreements so that we’ll be able to, for example, use technologies to capture flaring gas, to create and achieve independence in energy, and also to invest in other sources of energy, including renewables and solar energy.”

The statement surrounding the use of “technologies” to capture flare gas have caused some in the crypto community to speculate that Iraq intends to enter the Bitcoin mining sector.

Source: @boomstick44 on X.com.

Flare Gas

When crude oil is extracted and refined, gas builds up and pressurizes the processing equipment. This “waste gas” is typically either routed to a facility where it can be converted into something useful such as electricity or burnt off into the atmosphere.

Due to the remote location of many of Iraq’s oil fields, it’s long been considered economically infeasible to convert the flare gas and, as such, much of it ends up polluting the atmosphere.

Iraq’s Rumaila oil field is the world’s biggest producer of toxic flare gas, though efforts are reportedly underway to capture and repurpose as much as 60% today, with the target of ending all gas flaring in the country by 2027.

Bitcoin Mining

People have used everything from nuclear energy to their own excrement to mine cryptocurrency.

Bitcoin mining firm Giga, a Texas startup, uses the flare gas from local oil fields to power truckloads of portable mining rigs. Per a report from CNBC, the company was earning millions in profits as far back as 2021.

In Iraq the challenge comes at a much higher scale. As the world’s largest producer of flare gas pollutants, it would take an exceptional effort to convert 100% of its pollutants into usable electricity.

However, as noted above, Iraq currently has to balance its domestic energy requirements with its foreign debt. While adding power to the grid could certainly help ease the nation’s burdens, converting a portion of that electricity into Bitcoin mining could have an even greater positive impact.

Related: Crypto firm 7RCC is quietly advancing its eco-conscious spot Bitcoin ETF

Another potential avenue for using the energy provided by captured flare gas is in the area of carbon credits. Theoretically speaking, Iraq could not only reduce its own carbon footprint by capturing flare gas, but it could engage the international market by selling carbon credits via the blockchain. This would provide immutable proof of the nation's efforts and a potential temporary revenue stream as it pursues the reduction of its dependence on fossil fuels.

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