How FGN Promotes Gas Flaring In The Niger Delta


As part of activities to mark the World Environment Day it beckons on the Federal Government of Nigeria to consider her policies towards oil and gas exploration in the country. One of the big environmental question to ponder this day is how impossible it is to end flaring in Nigeria, whereas the same International Oil Companies are operating in the golf of Alaska without flaring gas.

Isn't there a double standard aided by our weak system? Recall that following large scale environmental pollution and climate change in the Niger Delta region, Nigeria declared 1979 to end gas flaring in the country. However, the date was shifted to 1981 which was still not actualized, leading to the imposition of fines to be paid by International Oil Companies (I.O.C.s) per cubit/flare.
The penalty was a stipend and a paltry sum for such companies who rake out billions of dollars out of the region daily, leaving the host communities as polluted as a pollutant. Most of the host communities lack basic amenities such as roads, water, health care facilities or even land to farm on or safe water to fish in. Their chiefs are paid off to shut up and youth groups are suppressed by use of military might till they graduate into a militia.

Sadly, for over 50years, companies such as ExxonMobil, Shell, Agip, Total and Chevron have continued to flare gas without even paying the paltry sum slammed on them as penalty.
DPPR recently submitted a report indicting the top I.O.C.s in the country of non remittance of the penalties since the year 2000.

Wasted Ogoni land

According to the UNEP reports, it'll take at least 25 years to remediate the devastating pollution in Ogoni, Rivers State. Nigeria is currently losing N868 million daily, as the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, disclosed that oil and gas firms operating in the country are currently flaring 700 million standard cubic feet of gas per day.

Group Managing Director of NNPC, Mr. Maikanti Baru has hinted that over 700 million SCF per day of gas that oil firms are flaring, was capable of generating an equivalent of 5,000 megawatts of electricity per day. He made this known at the 2018 Oloibiri Lecture Series and Energy Forum, OLEF, organized by the Society of Petroleum Engineers, SPE and NNPC.
He further reveals that calculating by an average of $4 per 1,000 SCF of gas and an exchange rate of N310 to a dollar, the flaring of 700 million SCF per tranlates to a loss of N868 million daily to the country.
Flared gas recently rose from 244.84 billion Standard Cubic Feet (SCF) in 2016, to 287.59 billion SCF in 2017, while gas flare penalty stands at N10/Mscf (equivalent to $0.03).

On Thursday, Mr. Maikanti Baru revealed that the GMD has a plan to end gas flaring in 2020.
The strategies announced by Baru, include, non-submission of Field Development Plans (FDPs) to the industry regulator, the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), without a viable and executable gas utilisation plan; steady reduction of existing flares through a combination of targeted policy interventions in the Gas Master-plan, as well as, re-invigoration of the flare penalty through the 2016 Nigeria Gas Flare Commercialisation Programme (NGFCP), and through legislation, that is, place ban on gas flaring via the recent Flare Gas (Prevention of Waste and Pollution) Regulations 2018.

However, with a busy election year at hand and the PIGB yet to be passed into law, the date looks everything but likely. In a time when pollution is threatening lives in the Niger Delta, there should be stronger commitment to end gas flaring and promote environmental friendly oil exploration.
As SHELL has apologised, let other I.O.C.s follow the example and collaborate with the federal government to end gas flaring.

By Onwordi Ngozi Fortune.

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