The Nigerian and British government have joined forces in calling for an end to gas flaring which is said to be bleeding the oil and gas sector up to the tune of $800 million annually.

Laurentia Mallam, minister of environment, said that President Goodluck Jonathan is keen on ending gas flaring in Nigeria as part of the determination to improve the economy of the country through improvement in power generating capacity of the energy sector.

Mallam stated that if gas flaring is ended, the energy sector would be able to generate gas capable of meeting 40 per cent of the energy needed by Nigerians.

The minister also said although gas flaring had been outlawed in Nigeria since 1984, no successive government has been able to take a bold step to address the problem the way President Jonathan’s administration has so far dealt with it.

Mallam explained that the Gas Flare tracker launched in Abuja recently is an online mapping system which she said would always provide data and insights meant to enhance regulation and investments on reduction of gas flaring and its impacts on the environment.

The British government speaking through Andrew Pocock, its high commissioner to Nigeria, said gas flaring is clearly a vast waste of economic potential by Nigeria. Pocock said the Nigerian government could not afford such a colossal waste at a time when its capacity to generate electricity is constrained by a lack of available gas.

He stressed the great impact of gas flaring in Nigeria, stating that about 17 million tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) are emitted yearly through the flaring of gas in the country. “To put this in context, a 2010 report estimated that vehicles in Lagos emitted 340 thousand tonnes of CO2. At that rate, it would take Lagos vehicles 50 years to produce as much CO2 as gas flaring produces in one year,” Pocock said.

The High Commissioner said the tackling of gas flaring by Nigeria would produce huge environmental benefits for the country.

So what is the way forward, how can Nigeria tackle gas flaring in a meaningful manner? The first step, according to Pocock, “is the mapping technology to determine the extent of the losses to gas flaring.” He added that, “Any long term solution to gas flaring will involve a combination of getting the gas market right, and better regulation and enforcement. Raising the domestic gas price, which I understand is planned to take place soon, will help increase the currently low incentive for using gas productively. Given the scale of the gas flaring challenge, this move should be welcomed.”

Pocock also explained that despite an increase in domestic gas prices, it may still not be economical to use all the flared gas. In response to this, he suggested that both industry and the Nigerian government will need to work in partnership to come up with alternative ways to stop the gas being flared.

Johnson Alabi
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