Nigeria Loses $2.5bn Yearly To Gas Flaring, Accounts For 40% Across Africa- BudgIT

BudgIT, a civic organisation engaged in simplifying the budgets and public finance, on Thursday urged the Federal Government to pay much more than lip service to its desire to stop gas flaring in the country’s Niger Delta region.
In a presentation on made available to our corresponding, BudgIT lamented a situation where Nigeria accounts for an estimated 40% of gas flaring incidences in Africa and in the process loses a significant $2.5bn year to the menace. This, it continued could amount to as much as N9tr loss over the next 10 years if something is not done urgently.
The report accused “some irresponsible oil companies” of not willing to make the investment necessary to deploy the right technologies and infrastructure to check gas flaring in Nigeria.
As a result, it said the Federal Government may have lost N2.86tr to weak enforcement of penalties, based on the 4.085tr standard cubic feet of gas flared by oil and gas companies operating in the country between 2008 and October 2016. The N2.86tr loss
to the Federation Account, it continued, was based on the $3.5 per 1,000scf of gas and an exchange rate of N200/$.
Furthermore, BudgIT noted that the N9tr potential loss could provide 2.5 gigawatts of electricity; 35,000 primary health care centres over the next decade and 10,000km of paved road networks across the country.
It quoted experts as arguing that failure to stop the menace “could mean more deaths and health deformities within these communities due to the toxic air indigenes breathe in.”
The report quoted the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) as saying an approximately 600,000 people killed in Africa yearly by air pollution in Africa, especially from gas flaring in oil-producing communities in Nigeria’s Niger Delta.
By flaring 14.33% of gas produced yearly, it said Nigeria could flare an estimated 784.59bn cubic meters of its natural gas into the oil bearing communities and offshore regions over the next 75 years.
It further noted that although the Federal Government claims it had discovered 178 gas flare sites across Nigeria in December 2017, Gas Flare Tracker, a data portal that monitors active flare sites within the country says there are rather 222 of such.
According to BudgIT, “it is unclear if these figures capture flares caused by illegal bunkering activities” in the country.
“Field visits to Niger Delta communities by BudgIT’s Extractive team in April 2017 show that in many cases, gas flares occur in close proximity to neighbourhoods, specially Polaku and Ogu communities in Bayelsa and Rivers States respectively,” he added.
Among environmental hazards of gas flaring to the local communities, the report added are: depleted air and ground water quality, leading to severe health crises, deformities in children, lung damage, pneumonia, asthma, bronchitis and blood disorders, among other fatal health conditions.
BudgIT also called for a review of “the guiding legal framework for deterring gas flaring to prevent companies from taking advantage of” of existing loopholes, besides the need to faithfully execute the National Gas Plan.
“The government should muster the political will necessary to execute Nigeria’s gas master plan and to enforce regulations aimed at tangibly achieving Zero Routine Gas flaring,” he stressed, calling for more investment in quality gas flare stacks.
“This will reduce unintended and routine flaring, thereby stopping the progression of
environmental degradation in communities.
The organisation further investment by stakeholder companies in natural gas capture infrastructure; funding of health research centres; just as “proceeds from gas flare penalties can be channeled towards funding health-related research in the Niger Delta region, to safeguard the lives of residents, and increase their quality of life.”