oil and gas

Commercialisation: Nigeria Cuts Gas Flare by 72.5% in 10 Years

September 7, 2021

With Nigeria’s renewed focus on harnessing and commercialising its gas resources, the flaring or burning of the commodity which was the norm in the past, has now reduced by over 70 per cent in the last 10 years, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation’s (NNPC) Annual Statistical Bulletin (ASB) has revealed.

Analysis of the ASB for 2020 showed that from a high of 25.79 per cent of total gas produced being flared in 2011, the number as of 2020 markedly reduced to 7.08 per cent of total gas produced.

The 10-year trend analysis revealed that in 2012, the flared gas accounted for 22.82 per cent; it was 17.57 per cent in 2013, 11.50 per cent in 2014, and 11.65 per cent in 2015.

The downward trend continued in 2016 when the figure fell to 11.25 per cent, but was however slightly distorted when it increased to 12.33 in 2017, continued on the downward slope in 2018, hitting 9.94 per cent, 8.53 per cent in 2019 and 7.08 per cent in 2020.

The latest data agrees with a recent World Bank report obtained by THISDAY under the Global Gas Flaring Tracker, which also indicated that gas flaring reduced by 70 per cent within a 15-year period in Nigeria.

Gas flaring, the burning of natural gas associated with oil extraction, takes place due to a range of issues, from market and economic constraints, to a lack of appropriate regulation and political will.

The practice results in a range of pollutants released into the atmosphere, including carbon dioxide, methane and black carbon or soot.

The World Bank GGFT stated that although global gas flaring decreased by 5 per cent, from 150 billion cubic meters (bcm) in 2019 to 142 bcm in 2020, Russia, Iraq, Iran, the United States, Algeria, Venezuela and Nigeria still remain at the top of seven gas flaring countries.

“We do see some marked improvements in a variety of regions and contexts. The United States performed particularly well in 2020, with gas flaring falling by 32 percent from 2019 to 2020, partly due to an 8 per cent drop in oil production, but also through the construction of infrastructure to use gas that would otherwise be flared.

“The United States’ reduction accounted for 70 percent or 5.5 billion cubic meters (bcm) of the global decline. Meanwhile, Nigeria and the greater Khanty-Mansiysk Autonomous Okrug (KMAO) region of Russia have both achieved significant progress over the past 15 years, with Nigeria reducing its gas flaring by 70 percent to just 7 bcm in 2020, and KMAO reducing its gas flaring volumes by nearly 80 percent, to just over 4 bcm, ”it stated.

The tracker, a leading global and independent indicator of gas flaring, found that from 2019 to 2020, oil production declined by 8 per cent, while gas flaring dropped by 5 percent.

“Nonetheless, the world still flared enough gas to power sub-Saharan Africa. The United States accounted for 70 per cent of the global decline, with gas flaring falling by 32 per cent from 2019 to 2020, due to an 8 per cent drop in oil production, combined with new infrastructure to use gas that would otherwise be flared,” it added.

But a separate report by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) hinted that despite a government moratorium on gas flaring that went into effect in 2008, the analysis detailed in its report indicates that the practice remains widespread throughout the Niger Delta, including in areas in proximity to the local population.

“Thousands of individuals currently live within areas where estimated ambient temperatures are significantly elevated above the already considerable tropical heat.
“In addition to the health, safety, and quality of life issues arising from this situation, peer-reviewed research shows that these higher temperatures are associated with reduced crop yields, potentially in conjunction with other environmental factors such as acidified rain from SO2 (sulphur) pollution, ”it noted.

Recently, the Minister of State for Petroleum, Timipre Sylva, disclosed that Nigeria will join the global community in achieving the complete elimination of gas flaring by 2025, saying that the issue of gas flaring is something that the ministry takes very seriously.

“We believe, with all the programmes lined up, that we are on course to achieve complete elimination of gas flaring by 2025. We take the issue of gas flaring in the ministry very seriously, ”Sylva said.

Corroborating Sylva’s statement, the Group Managing Director of NNPC, Mallam Mele Kyari, revealed that the corporation was executing a number of projects to make sure that gas flare is taken out completely.

Kyari stated that increasing the flaring penalty was not the solution, adding that Nigeria was building major trunk lines that will receive the flared gas while connecting most parts of the country to the gas network so that people can convert gas to power.

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