Nigeria has elected to join the global community in achieving complete elimination of gas flaring in 2025.The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Silva gave the commitment at a public hearing on "Need to End Gas Flaring in Nigeria and Harness Associated Gas" in Nigeria, organized by the House of Representatives Joint Committee on Gas Resources, Environment and Climate Change in Abuja yesterday.
Gas flaring is the combustion of associated gas generated during various processes, including oil and gas recovery.
Speaking at the hearing, Sylva noted that gas flaring had been reduced to eight per cent. In the country at present, adding that by 2025, it would be completely eliminated.
He said: "The issue of gas flaring is something that the Ministry takes very seriously. There is a global consensus on the elimination of gas flaring by 2025. Today, we have reduced the issue of gas flaring to a minimum eight per cent.
"We believe, with all the programmes lined up, 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."
In his remarks, the Group Managing Director, GMD, of the Nigerian National Cooperation, NNPC, Mele Kyari, said the corporation was building major trunk lines infrastructure that will receive flared gas.
According to him, no amount of penalty imposed on the oil companies for flaring gas will stop the unhealthy practice.
He said: "Two things must happen - one is to put the enabling infrastructure which we are doing immensely. We are building major trunklines that will receive the flared gas that you are seeing today.
"We are connecting most parts of this country to the gas network so that people can convert this gas to power Industries and they are all within sight.
"Just to put it in perspective, by the end of March, we have what we will call the quarry cluster for flared gas. It makes about 200 million cups of gas. By the end of March, this will vanish because once we end connecting all the lines, automatically, it goes away. A number of projects are being executed to make sure that we take the flare completely out.
"No matter how much penalty you put, if the cost of penalty is cheaper, people will continue to flare and pay the penalty. You can raise the penalty to any number and what it does is that it will completely make the people not to invest in anything.
"Therefore, increasing the flaring penalty is not the solution. It is to create the commercial tanks that will enable companies invest in this flare so that we can convert them into money. The effort is to commercialize this gas to bring on board the infrastructure we need to have in place.
In his intervention, Minister of Environment, Mohammed Abubakar, who was represented by a Director in the Ministry, Mr. Abbas Suleiman, regretted the environmental challenges of gas flaring, pledging to help the petroleum ministry end it.
He said: "Gas flaring is an environmental challenge. So much has been said about the challenges that accompany this issue. Gas flaring leads to global warming and the fear that the earth may snowball into green house effect.
"The Ministry of Environment has been giving support in this regard. We promise that we will continue to give all the necessary supports by enforcing all the environmental laws to this effect."
Earlier in his welcome address, the Chairman joint committee of the House on Gas Resources, Environment and Climate Change Committees, Mutu Nicholas, disclosed that Nigeria was losing over $750 million annually from flared gas.
He said: 'Gas flare is a malady that we must work together to eliminate at the shortest time possible; because of its all round adverse effects on the environment and socio-economic well-being of the people of Niger Delta.
" At current estimates by Price waterhouse Coopers, PwC, Nigeria loses over $750 million in annual revenue from flared gas.
"Zero-Flare Gas deadlines have routinely shifted to future dates. We thus commend government for the 2018 gas flare regulation which imposes the penalty of $2.00 per million standard cubic feet of gas flared."
Declaring the event open earlier, speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, who was represented by the Chairman, House Committee on Judiciary, Onofiok Luke, said though there had been many unfruitful conversations about achieving the objective, the 9th House was committed to changing the narratives.
"Last year, the House of Representatives heard and debated a motion on the "Need To End Gas Flaring In Nigeria And Harness Associated Gas Resources."
"We have gathered here today (yesterday) to fulfill the resolutions reached that day, including the charge to investigate the level of devastation caused by gas flaring and the level of regulatory compliance by multinationals in the petroleum upstream sector.
"The conversation about gas flaring in Nigeria has been going on for a long time. Unfortunately, those conversations have not yielded the desired results. We have not managed to end the environmental damage that results from gas flaring, and we are still deprived of the economic benefits of full utilisation of gas resources in our country.
"In this 9th House of Representatives, we intend to do everything we can to change this narrative. We will convene stakeholders to deliberate and resolve the policy disagreements and other issues that have mitigated against the effective utilisation of gas resources.
"Following that, we will take legislative action through bills and oversight to achieve the ambitions we hold in this regard."
Speaking on behalf of the oil host communities, High Chief Benjamin Tamaranebi, insisted on 10% equity, arguing that oil companies do not care about the welfare of the people but to maximize profit.
He said: "Gas is the hub of Nigeria tomorrow. It's the future of Nigeria. In our presentation on the PIB, we made it clear that ten percent equity be guaranteed. We should be partners in progress.
"Oil companies are talking of gains and losses. They are not considering the pains of host communities and that's the reason we should have a win-win situation. The oil companies, government and host communities are winning and that way, the assets will be well secured,."
Recalling the fight at the PIB public hearing, Tamaranebi apologized to the lawmakers.
"I want to apologize for the fight at the petroleum industry bill, PIB, it was a calculated attempt to stop the voice of the ordinary host communities.
"We are not engaging a fight with ourselves, but we are here to chase links. Host communities are the ones suffering from the oil and gas industry, we are talking of emission of poisonous substances into our environment."
Vanguard News Nigeria