It appears that the increase in flaring of natural gas is not tied to the low price of gas, according to the first two figures below. Even in 2004 when gas prices were fairly high, flaring was already on the rise. In either case, flaring natural gas does not really make scientific nor economic sense because the BTU’s obtained from natural gas is so much higher per pound than any other fuel, except perhaps hydrogen.
The data above is since 1997 because the time frame is more relevant to the present day. However, it does not tell the whole story. The figure below tells an even more haunting story. Look at how much flaring/venting of natural gas the US has done since 1940. Flaring methane to me is like opening a clam for its meat, finding a pearl and throwing the pearl in the trash.
Perhaps at one time we did not know what to do with the methane and flaring was excusable. Today, however, the Fischer Tropsch method of converting natural gas to synthetic fuels is well researched and verified. We have known about this technology since the 1920’s. Furthermore, presently automobiles can be operated with the direct use of methane; and fuel cells prove that they can generate energy more effectively using any hydrocarbon.