The Senate said, yesterday, that Nigeria accounts for over 40 per cent of the gas flared annually across Africa, which amounts to about $7 billion in waste.
It also declared Nigeria was losing over $2.5 billion to gas-flaring annually and that the country also accounts for an estimated two billion standard cubic feet of flared gas, which amounts to about 19 per cent of gas flared globally.
The upper legislative chamber has, therefore, set in motion a machinery to the 39-year-old law which recommends only N10 as fine for gas flaring.
Declaring open a public hearing on Gas Flaring (Prohibition) Bill 2017, Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, noted that gas-flaring remained a matter of great national embarrassment to the country.
He said: "Apart from economic waste being a consequence of gas flaring, flared gas is also known to contain toxic substances, which cause respiratory diseases and air pollution, leading to depletion of the ozone layer, and ultimately having an adverse effect on weather and climate."
According to him, only God knows how many of Nigeria's citizens have lost their lives as a result of gas-flaring.
Represented by Deputy Senate Leader, Senator Ibn Bala Na'Allah, Saraki said there was no reason the country should continue to flare gas, considering its short and long term consequences.
He said: "The issue of gas-flaring in Nigeria is a matter of great national embarrassment. We have no reason to continue to flare this precious resource God has endowed us with. This bill, therefore, seeks to make provisions for the prohibition of the flaring and venting of natural gas in any oil and gas production operation in Nigeria and for other matters connected therewith.
"Gas-flaring is as old as the discovery of crude oil in Nigeria. While it remains a global environmental malaise with attendant environmental consequences, we must move with the rest of the world to seriously put an end to it. Gas flaring is not an inevitability.
"While statistics may not be accurate, the quantity of gas flared in Nigeria exceeds over 40 per cent of the gas flared annually across Africa, which amounts to about $7 billion in waste, apart from economic waste being a consequence of gas flaring."
Nigeria loses $2.5bn annually
Earlier in his remarks, Chairman, Senate Committee on Gas, Senator Bassey Akpan, noted that Nigeria was losing over $2.5 billion to gas flaring annually, adding that the statistics remained the highest among the member nations of Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries, OPEC.
He also said the non-availability of adequate data had made it difficult to gauge the exact magnitude of the effect of the practice.
According to him, there is a better understanding of the barriers that must be overcome to reduce flaring.
Akpan noted that Nigeria's estimated 188 billion cubic feet of proven natural gas reserve made it the ninth largest concentration in the world
He said: "Due to unsustainable exploration practices, coupled with the lack of gas utilization infrastructure, we flare more than 75 per cent of the gas produced and re-inject only 12 per cent to enhance oil recovery."
In his presentation, National Chairman of Host Communities of Nigeria Producing Oil and Gas, HOSTCOM, Prince Mike Emu, said there should be insertion of a clause or section in the proposed bill that should recognise and seek to protect the rights off host communities as bonafide beneficiaries of the gas-flaring penalty levy as those that suffer the hazards of gas-flaring and as required by global best practices.
200 die monthly to gas-flaring in N-Delta
Also in his presentation, National Chairman, Host Communities, Chief Alfred Bubor, told the committee that an average of 200 person die monthly in Niger Delta as a result gas related illness.
He said communities where gas was flared do experience perpetual day of intensity resulting from gas flaring and prevent residents from enjoying night sleep, adding that crops and building roof were often destroyed by the effect of gas flaring.
He demanded that the Federal Government should establish a department of gas regulation in the Ministry of Energy to oversee the implementation of the new gas policy.