Let FG end gas flaring in 2030

The National Oil Spill Detection Remediation Agency (NOSDRA) has revealed that Nigeria lost N569 billion or about $372 million to gas flaring in the first quarter of 2024. This represents about 106.3 billion standard cubic feet (scf) of gas. The estimate of gas flared by oil companies in the country is put at 2.53 trillion scf annually. All the deadlines given by the federal government to end gas flaring in the country could not stop the colossal economic waste.

Available figures show that the money lost to gas flaring by oil companies could power over four million homes. It is unfortunate that despite these huge losses, and the health and environmental hazards of gas flaring, the federal government has not been able to rein in the oil firms involved in the evil practice. The oil firms have also not been prompt in paying the penalties for their actions. According to the NOSDRA report, the revenue loss for the four months in review was 14.21 per cent higher than the $325.7 million (N498 bilion) lost to gas flaring in the same period in 2023.

At a time when the government is facing acute financial crisis and cannot afford the new national minimum wage demanded by organised labour, the NOSDRA explained that the country would have received N521 billion or $325 million for penalties from offending oil companies for the four months period. Sadly, the penalties were hardly paid. Furthermore, the amount of gas flared between January and April 2024 emitted 3.6 million tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, which could generate 10,600 gigawatt hours (Gwh).

In comparison, the 93.1 billion scf of gas flared in the same period in 2023 emitted about 4.9 million tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and could generate about 9,300Gwh. The offending oil firms, including Shell Petroleum, Mobil, Chevron and EIf, are reportedly liable for penalties totaling N285 billion or $186 million. 

The federal government should demonstrate seriousness in ending gas flaring. Last year, NOSDRA revealed that the Nigeria lost N702 billion between January and November 2023 to gas flaring. This translates to 241 standard cubic feet (scf) of gas. It also represents 18.9 per cent increase compared to 195.5 percent of scf flared in the corresponding period of 2022.  This unbridled gas flaring is unacceptable and must be stopped forthwith.

The volume of gas flared during the period under review was equivalent to carbon dioxide emissions of 673 million tonnes. Also, oil companies operating offshore are reported to have flared 132.9 million scf, while those operating onshore have flared 108.1 million scf.                Last year, the House of Representatives vowed to probe the huge loss of revenue caused by gas flaring. Also, President Bola Tinubu, at last year’s Conference on Climate Change (COP28) in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates, pledged Nigeria’s commitment to end gas flaring. His promise came on the heels of the current global push to reduce methane emissions and other greenhouse gases.

No long ago, the federal government set in motion plans to check gas flaring with the approval of 139 investors to commercialise gas flares from the  48 gas-flare sites across the country. The successful investors emerged from over 300 firms that responded to government’s request. Little has been heard from that plan. Statistics from the Nigerian gas tracker, an arm of NOSDRA, show that flared natural gas in Nigeria was valued at $685 million as of November 2022.

In today’s carbon constrained world, where fossil fuel is becoming less popular, natural gas has become vital in bridging the gap in petrol consumption for many oil and gas-producing nations.  Nigeria is among the top ten gas flaring countries in the world, and the second biggest gas flaring country in the world. Others are Russia, Iran, Iraq, United States, Algeria and Kazakhstan. 

Three years ago, former President Muhammadu Buhari promised at the United Nations (UN) that Nigeria would work in collaboration with the rest of the international community to end gas flaring in 2030.  It will be a remarkable achievement if this goal is realised. It is sad that successive administrations have promised to end gas flaring but failed. 

According to the World Bank report, gas flaring in Nigeria persists mainly due to economic constraints such as lack of appropriate regulation and political will to deal with the problem. The call to end gas flaring is more urgent now than ever. What is needed includes the political will and the regulatory framework to deal with offending oil companies. 

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button