Nigeria: Leeway to Gas Flaring Crisis, By Stakeholders

GAS flaring has been an issue in Nigeria right from the beginning of commercial exploitation of crude oil in the country. Although, it is common knowledge that the economy is substantially dependent on exploration of oil than it is to gas, the industry has been practically frustrated and nearly abandoned over the years due to failure by past government to develop the sub-sector. For example, the Social Development Integrated Centre (Social Action), a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), disclosed recently that the country lost a whopping sum of N31.8 billion as revenue to gas flaring, in the month of February this year. Despite longstanding laws against gas flaring, the burning of natural gas during oil extraction and shifting deadlines to end the practice, the activity continues.

At this year's Nigerian Association of Petroleum Explorationists (NAPE) Pre-Conference Workshop on Monday 10th November, 2014, stakeholders believed that it is expedient for the government and policy-makers in the oil industry make every effort to appreciably reduce the quantum of gases being flared in Nigeria and encourage the development of gas infrastructure. The conference, which was tagged: "Driving an Executable Gas flare-out agenda for Nigeria's Oil and Gas Industry," brought together stakeholders in the oil and gas industry to deliberate on the issue of gas flaring and proffer possible solution to the menace. Speaking at the event, President of NAPE, Mrs. Adedoja Ojelabi, said that in spite of several gas flares-out regulations and policy, the country continue to flare the natural resources. "The goal post has shifted a few more times, 2001 to 2004, and then the National Energy Policy that declared January 1, 2008 then December 31, 2008 as the deadline for gas flares-out in Nigeria. Some reports have named 2015 as the next deadline", she added. Ojelabi identified key issues hampering the effective reduction in gas flaring in the Niger Delta include Legal issues regarding gas flaring regulatory framework; Nigerian government's commitment /capacity to create enabling environment; Fiscal and contractual framework for associated gas; Lack of infrastructure and huge upfront cost to develop it; Access to transmission and markets and energy pricing. She added that there has been a downside, with the negative impact on the environment, sustainable development, erosion of revenue from gas as a commodity, wealth creation from gas investment opportunities, loss of value for power generation where the country is highly deficient. "Recent studies have shown the extent of economic loss to the country could range from $2.5 - 17 billion yearly", she added.

Also, the Minister of Power, Prof. Chinedu Nebo, said that adequate gas supply was necessary for effective power supply in the country. The Minister of Power, who was represented by Frank Edoziem, Senior Special Assistant to the Minister of Power on Power and Gas, said that the recent announcement of a new pricing regime for domestic gas to power has opened up a new vista for the production of gas for domestic consumption. "We now need to look more at the exploitation of Non-Associated Gas. This means that in addition to our traditional sources in the prolific Niger Delta region, we need to look farther afield at marginal fields and the inland basins including the Anambra and Bida basins and the Benue Trough. "In other words, our gas growth needs for power have to be met through dedicated gas developments, targeted at producing gas for power.

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