Opinions & Features November 09, 2020 at 01:00 pm

Why the Nigerian government should give more attention to gas flaring

Ebisan Petra Wilkie November 09, 2020 at 01:00 pm

November 09, 2020 at 01:00 pm | Opinions & Features

Gas flaring Photo: daniumenergy.com

The continued drastic drop in Nigeria’s oil revenue poses a serious threat to its economy. The prospects of gas to revenue generation are vast and it needs to be managed judiciously. There should be more development of gas infrastructure in order to control the resource and turn it into cash.

Gas flaring creates environmental hazards that are toxic to living organisms in the affected area. Authorities in charge of existing oil fields need to eliminate these hazards no later than 2025, or the consequences will be gravely irreversible. 

The flare causes severe ecosystem damage. It is a prime source of greenhouse gases, contributing to global warming and acid rain. Acid rain has an attendant influence on agriculture, forest and other physical infrastructures.

This catastrophic event is a run-of-the-mill practice in the oil-making process globally. Libya, for example, flares about 21% of its natural gas, while Saudi Arabia, Canada and Algeria flare 20%, 8% and 5% respectively. Nigeria has one of the worst rates of gas flaring on the planet. In 2019, Nigeria flared 7.83 billion cubic metres (bcm) of its natural gas.

Nigeria has documented a substantial revenue loss because of gas flaring. It has reported skin diseases, lung impairment and malformations in children. The activities of multinational oil companies in the exploration of crude oil in the Niger Delta are damaging because of gas flaring which occurs in the process of gas production.

Gas flaring from Bayelsa State alone causes an average of 4,960 respiratory ailments amongst children, 120,000 asthma cases and 49 premature deaths, annually. The flares contain poisons which harm food production, as the environment suffers intense pollution. 

The Nigerian government has yet to implement effective policies that will help the people in the areas of production. Meeting the Global Gas Flaring Reduction Public-Private Partnership (GGFR) standard will lessen greenhouse gas effusions from venting, and spike the advancement of private gas markets in Nigeria.

Also, adopting the International Financial Corporation (IFC) standard would lead to a deepening of sustainable development practices in the hydrocarbon domain. Organizations that endorse this initiative will ease implementation and contemplate financial instruments.

We can settle flaring with proper numerical procedures applied to solving differential equations that may govern the gas flaring process, an exact estimate of gas flared in Nigeria with the help of satellite imaging equipment and the resulting poisons that ruin our environment.

Gas flaring ironically has economic benefits. It can be converted to liquefied natural gas, cooking gas and used to produce plastic products. The application of these gas products will reduce the pressure on our forests (whose trees are mostly used for cooking and making furniture).

A high percentage of gas flared in Nigeria’s oil fields will generate billions of dollars for its economy. Converting this flared gas to liquid, exporting it to countries like China and India that desire liquefied gas for their thousands of factories, would fetch us a bucketful of dollars that will go into construction, education, health, and so on.

Firm dedication from the government will uplift gas use and flaring reduction with petroleum companies through the instigation of fiscal incentives. Also, the gas can be processed into domestic gas. Because of the difficulties faced by local communities from gas flaring, it is the apt time for the government to commit to ensuring that flaring is brought to a minimal degree.

Ebisan is a writing fellow at African Liberty and she tweets via: @Pet165. Email: petra1988wilkie@gmail.com

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