The Herald tribune has this amazing article about how wasteful the Russian energy production and distribution is.
In the article the director of the International Energy Agency, Claude Mandil, specifically critizes the widespread practice of gas flaring - that is, burning off gas at oil wells.
"Between 40 billion cubic meters and 60 billion cubic meters a year are being burned in Russia," he said. "That is about a quarter of the 200 billion cubic meters of gas Russia exports to Europe a year."
According to the World Bank, each year about 150 billion cubic meters of natural gas is flared off - equivalent to 30 percent of the European Union's gas consumption.
Developing countries account for more than 85 percent of gas flaring and venting, including Nigeria, Russia, Iran, Iraq, Angola and Qatar.
In Russia, "gas flaring exists because today Gazprom is the only one that can buy this gas," Mandil said. "It buys this gas at such a low price that producers do not see the reason to build a small pipeline that could bring this gas from the field to the trunk line."
So much for avoiding the greenhouse effect...