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Gas Flaring in Nigeria Waste of Precious Natural Resource—Derefaka

The Program Manager of the Nigerian Gas Flare Commercialization Programme (NGFCP), Office of the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources (MPR), Mr Justice Derefaka, in Lagos Tuesday, revealed that gas flaring remains a waste of precious natural resource that can drive the economy if well harnessed.
He expressed confidence that the ongoing process towards gas flare commercialization will amongst other things, attract local and international investments to the tune of over $3bn, create jobs and clean up oil producing communities, thus making the programme a win-win approach.
Explaining more in his lead presentation at the ongoing 3rd lawyers in Oil & gas Conference, titled; ‘The Impact of Government Regulatory Policy and the Road to Sustainable Economic Growth Through The Lens of the NGFCP,’ he averred that “Gas flaring is a tremendous waste we cannot simply tolerate …especially from a climate change perspective”.
Continuing, he noted that “Gas flaring account for two per cent of all Green House gases (GHG) emissions which are responsible for several ill-health and environmental challenges”.
Giving an analogy of the Conference theme: ‘Nigerian Oil & Gas Industry:- Its National Policies and Regulations; A Reflection on the Economy,’ Derefaka averred that “In a world where we are under the surging pressure of climate change, we cannot get rid of a precious natural resource and waste it without recourse to turning it around to grow the economy”.
He argued that contrary to failed speculations, “The gas we flare is an important part of the global energy transition, the closet ally to renewable”.
“The UN has described energy as ‘’central to nearly every major challenge and opportunity the world faces today. Be it for jobs, security, climate change, food production or increasing incomes, access to energy for all is essential”
“Yet, even today, little or no access to energy deprives part of the world’s population (Nigeria inclusive) of the opportunity to improve their quality of life.
“In a world where we still have about 1.1 billion (i.e. 1 in 6 people on the planet) people without access to electricity (i.e. more than three times the population of the USA)
“Another 1 billion people struggle with unreliable supplies of electricity and 95% of these people are from sub-Saharan Africa and Developing Asia.
While decrying that only 12.5% of Nigeria’s population have access to power supply, he said time has come for Nigeria to commercialize gas flaring as a way of lifting many out of poverty and economic growth.
Revealing more, he disclosed that “More than 16,000 flare sites are in 90 countries globally with many of them in Nigeria.
He decried that “About 145 – 150 BCM gas is flared per year globally which are even enough to produce 750 billion kWh power, a figure that is more than the entire power consumption on the African continent annually.
On the real Environmental & Health Impact of gas flaring, Derefaka averred that “According to UNEP, approximately 600,000 people die in Africa every year as a result of air pollution; gas flaring is a key driver of air pollution in oil-producing communities, with Nigeria accounting for 40% of all gas flared in Africa”.
Recalling that air pollution is the world’s largest environmental health risk which contributes to health problems such as irregular heartbeat, acute leukaemia, aplastic anaemia, chronic bronchitis, painful breathing, aggravated asthma and premature mortality, he noted that gas flaring remains a key suspect in such health conditions.
“Gas flaring also emit potent greenhouse gases (e.g., CO2 and methane) that contribute to climate change and release particulates that cause acid rains that acidifies water bodies, destroys plants and forests, and accelerates the deterioration of buildings and other machinery.
Giving instances, he said about 17 onshore gas flare points in Bayelsa state are estimated to cause 120,000 asthma attacks, 4,960 respiratory illnesses among children and 49 premature deaths per year in the region.
On the Guiding Principles for Policy & Regulatory Quality and Performance which the NGFCP is showcasing; Derefaka revealed that the Ministry has been giving stronger Regulatory Governance to move forward in driving an end to gas flaring in Nigeria.
He disclosed that the vigour to drive the process encouraged the Federal Government to declare commitment to gas flare out by 2020.
This declaration, according to him, had been driven by Nigeria’s membership of the Global Gas Flare Reduction Partnership (GGFR) and the Zero Routine Flaring (ZRF) Initiative [2016]; FEC approval of the Nigerian Gas Flare Commercialization Programme [NGFCP] [October, 2016]; and Signatory country to the United Nations Framework Agreement for Climate Change (UNFCCC) [“Paris Agreement”] with a commitment to make “Intended Nationally Determined Contributions” for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) [2016].
Also other efforts include ratification of the UNFCC by the President [May, 2017]; FEC approval of the National Gas Policy [June, 2017]; and Gas Flare Out as a component of the ERGP [2017].
No doubt, analysts and industry pundits say the NGFCP is the first market driven program undertaken on this scale globally – Bidders will have flexibility of choosing which flare site(s) to bid for, the flare gas price to offer to the FGN (taking into cognizance the NGFCP floor price of US$0.25cents per thousand standard cubic square feet of gas) and the end market gas products (FG-2-MP), as well as the technology (FG-2-MT) to be deployed/Used.
While recalling that the Flare Gas (Prevention of Waste and Pollution) Regulations 2018 has been approved by Mr. President and Gazetted to underpin the implementation of the NGFCP (Approved 5th July, and gazette 9th July, 2018), he said the regulations are made pursuant to: Sections 9 & 11 of the Petroleum Act, Paragraph 35 (b) (1) First Schedule, Petroleum Act (The right of Government to take all Flare Gas free of cost at the Flare and without payment of royalty), Section 9 (1) (b) (ii) and (iii) of the Petroleum Act and the S.3 of the Associated Gas Re-injection Act.
Derefaka added that key provisions in the New Regulations cut across Mandatory Reporting and Access to Gas Flare Data, Mandatory access to Gas At Flare, Increased Flaring Fines [The new regime of fines), Flaring Standards, Metering requirements, Reporting Obligations [Monthly Gas flare logs & Annual reporting], and Prohibits flaring and venting of gas except further to a certificate issued by Minister in limited circumstances.
The conference continues and ends today, Wednesday, May 8, 2019 at Four Points by Sheraton, Lagos.