How to Stop Gas Flaring in Nigeria: Dear readers, this is a very long post but I promise you that it’s going to be very informative. If I can take the pains of putting this down for your reading pleasure, then you should do as little as digest the knowledge. So, relax and enjoy the content.
If you think that every thing about the discovery and exploration of petroleum in Nigeria Is a blessing, then you have to think again because the negative effects of the activities of oil firms in the country to an extent outweighs their positive returns.
It is ironical that despite Nigeria’s monocultural dependence on oil for over 65 percent of its revenue, insufficient investment has been made in infrastructure to utilize the natural gas emanating from the continuous exploration of the crude oil.
It is equally heartrending that despite the pronounced consequences of gas flaring, the Nigerian government has shown little effort to curb the menace through effective implementation of environmental regulations and because of the overlapping and conflicting jurisdiction of governmental agencies governing petroleum and the environment such as the Federal Environmental Protection Agency (FEPA) and Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) as well as the non-transparent government mechanisms.
Thus, the continuous flaring of gas by oil firms in Nigeria.
This post shall examine the consequences of gas flaring and the possible ways to curb the problem in Nigeria.
Now, I will highlight the negative consequences of the gas flaring activities of oil firms in Nigeria before proffering solutions to it.
Gas flaring in Nigeria over the years has resulted in a number of economic, environmental, agricultural and health problems in the country and beyond. We shall be looking at these problems under the following subheadings:
The NNPC in its Annual Statistical Bulletin for 2014 revealed that oil and gas firms in Nigeria flared 289.6 billion SCF of gas between January and November 2014, representing 11.47 per cent of the total gas produced in that year. Using the Nigerian Gas Company, NGCs price of $3 per 1,000 SCF of gas and the exchange rate as of that time, the flaring of 289.6 billion SCF of gas translated to a loss of $868.8 million, an equivalent of N173.76 billion lost revenue which could have been utilized to solving the country’s numerous social-economic problems.
Gas flaring has caused severe environmental damages both in the oil producing areas of the country and the nation at large. It is a major contributor to climate change through the continuous emission of carbon monoxide (the major green house gas) and other gases which causes ozone layer depletion and consequently global warming and acid rain which acidifies our water bodies, damages vegetation, and water creatures as well as accelerates the decay of building materials.
Atmospheric contaminants from gas flaring such as sulphur, carbon and Nitrogen, particulate matter, hydrogen sulphide, hydrocarbons and so on acidifies the soil, thus, depleting soil nutrients. Also, increased climate temperature caused by gas flaring equally cause stunted growth and withering of young crops.
The emission of hazardous pollutants during the flaring of associated gas have adverse effects on human health as the inhalation and contact with these gases causes health problems such as cancer, deformities in children, lung damage, anemia, leukemia and even skin diseases.
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Now that we have known that gas flaring has enormous impact on our health, environment and economy, you will agree with me that the best thing to do is seek for solutions to the problem.
According to an online portal, Nigeria Gas Flare Tracker, Nigeria is second only to Russia in the global gas flaring index and first in Africa. This goes to show that the problem constituted by the gas flared by oil firms in Nigeria affects not just the country but Africa and the World. Thus, the need to put a stop to the act by implementing the following solutions:
1. ENACTMENT AND IMPLEMENTATION OF THE PETROLEUM INDUSTRY BILL (PIB)
This bill stipulates that natural gas shall not be flared or vented in any oil and gas production operation, oil block, field, onshore, offshore, or gas facility, unless under exceptional and temporary circumstances. The passing of this bill into law would signal oil firms operating in the country that it is no longer business as usual.
2. CLEAR SEPARATION OF THE FUNCTIONS OF GOVERNMENTAL AGENCIES
The overlapping and sometimes conflicting jurisdiction of the different governmental quangos governing the petroleum sector and the environment have always been a bane on the effective implementation of anti-flaring and environmental regulations in the country. Thus, it is pertinent that the government should put clear boundaries between the functions of one agency and that of another.
3. EFFECTIVE MONITORINIG OF THE NIGERIAN GAS FLARE TRACKER AND PENALIZING OFFENDERS APPROPRIATELY
In November 2014, the Federal Government launched a gas flaring tracker system which monitors the volume of gas flared by oil firms as well as amount of fine due to be paid by facility owners.
However, most of the defaulting firms fail to comply with the fine either as a result of ineffective monitoring of the tracking system or ineffective enforcement of the penalties by the appropriate agencies.
Thus, the appropriate agencies should endeavor to effectively monitor the tracking system as well as enforce the appropriate penalties on defaulting oil facilities.
Also, the fine should be high enough to discourage oil companies from gas flaring as stopping the act should be the major aim of the government and not making money through the fines.
4. SUFFICIENT INVESTMENT IN GAS INFRASTRUCTURE
The government should encourage oil companies to invest adequately in gas infrastructure so as to enable them harness and convert the natural gases into useful products that will serve the needs of the populace, bring in additional foreign exchange, improve electricity generation as well as minimize environmental degradation.
Though, oil companies in Nigeria find it more economically efficient to burn or vent associated gases and pay the relatively low fine than to inject the gas back to the oil wells.
However, our environment, health and living standards should not be sacrificed on the altar of profit maximization by the oil firms.
Thus, the Nigerian government should put in place appropriate policies to discourage gas flaring as well as encourage oil companies to process the associated gas into domestic gases to serve the fuel needs of the masses rather than deteriorating their health and environment.
Also, natural gas if properly harnessed can be used to improve power generation in the country as well as be used in refrigerators and air conditioners in place of the ozone layer depleting chlorofluorocarbons.
Now, over to you my readers.
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