Petroleo Brasileiro S.A (Petrobras) has increased gas flaring, or the burning of natural gas, in recent months because of fall in demand for the fuel. The company burned around 8.1 million cubic meters per day of natural gas at its offshore platforms in February 2009, or an amount equivalent to about one-third of the gas currently imported daily from Bolivia.

The large amount of gas flaring cost the company about BRL5 million (around $2.3 million) per day, as per the present price of the fuel on the international market.

The company has always had to burn off large amount of gas in its operations because it lacks the infrastructure to store or transport the fuel from offshore platforms, but the volume of gas flaring rose markedly in recent months.

Petrobras in 2007 burned off an average of five million cubic meters per day of natural gas, with gas flaring rising to an average of six million cubic meters per day in 2008.

Gas flaring increased to 6.1 million cubic meters per day in January 2009 and surged to 8.1 million cubic meters per day in February 2009.

The volume of gas being burned off soared due to the sharp fall in industrial demand for the fuel caused by the global economic crisis and because gas-fueled power plants have been virtually shut down as hydroelectric plants operate normally.