Nigeria, the seventh largest gas flarer in the world, has endorsed a “Zero Routine Flaring by 2030” Initiative, a global effort to end routine flaring, which allows the country to shift the 2020 target to end the 38-year old air pollution by another 10 years.

The Ministry of Petroleum Resources revealed this in a document sighted by New Telegraph, which was also backed by the World Bank’s Global Gas Flaring Reduction Partnership (GGFR).

Nigeria had since 1979 been shifting deadlines for gas flaring and the latest attempt placed the country at the risk of suffering additional N3.145 trillion ($8.5 billion) loss in the 10 years’ window.

The country, which suffered $850 million loss to gas flaring in 2015, the ministry’s document showed, quoting the latest data released by Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), appended its signature on the “Zero Routine Flaring by 2030” Initiative, a global effort to end routine flaring that Nigeria endorsed in 2016.

Over eight billion cubic meters of gas flared annually in Nigeria, the World Bank’s GGFR shows, is enough to “generate electricity for over 75 million of its population that lack access to electricity.”

The multinational oil firms, it would be recalled, failed to meet the 1979 dateline, thus forcing the civilian administration led by Alhaji Shehu Shagari to defer the zero gas flaring deadline to 1984. To ensure the realisation of the target, an Associated Gas Re-Injection Act of 1979 No. 99 was introduced, demanding that oil corporations operating in Nigeria should produce detailed plans for gas utilisation as well as guarantee zero flares by January 1, 1984, unless they had a case-by-case exemption obtainable from the relevant ministry.
Similar excuses were presented three years later by the oil multinational firms on the reasons the 1984 deadline for zero gas flaring would not be feasible, thus forcing the embattled Shagari government to shift the target date.

Although, routine gas flaring was outlawed since 1984, according to Section 3 of Nigeria’s Associated Gas Reinjection Act, 1979, the practice continued unabated during the succeeding military regimes. Instead of the much anticipated reduction, statistics from the Department of the Petroleum Resources (DPR) show that rate of gas flaring grew leaps and bounds, owing to the failure of the government to enforce the gas flaring law.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, the document showed, expressed the belief that the country would meet the deadline provided in the new document signed by government. It presented the flare-out plans in more detail and encouraged all stakeholders to provide views and comments on the roadmap during the consultation process that ended earlier this year.

“This massive amount of gas flared annually in Nigeria is a waste of energy that our country just cannot afford. Now is the time to step up our efforts and what is needed are innovative, bold approaches to flare reduction,” the statement quoted Senior Technical Adviser to the minister of state for petroleum resources, Gbite Adeniji, to have said.

Nigeria’s Ministry of Petroleum Resources, the document added, requested additional support from GGFR and the World Bank to expand and implement its new gas commercialization programme. In addition, various development institutions, such as Agence Française de Développement and Environment Canada, have expressed their interest in partnering with the World Bank and GGFR to support gas flaring reduction in the country.

“Specific areas of interest include assessing the potential to use small-scale technologies for flare reduction through pilot projects, and supporting technical baseline work needed to implement the new commercialization programme, including accurate flare measurement and establishing a technical database for access by vetted, credible investors in flare-out projects,” the document stated.

In recent years, Nigeria, the World Bank added, has shown significant progress, reducing gas flaring by about two billion cubic meters from 2012 to 2015.
Despite priding itself to have reduced gas flaring by 26 per cent in the last 10 years, Nigeria, Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) has said, lost $850 million to gas flaring in 2015.

Deputy Director and Head Upstream, DPR, Mrs. Pat Maseli, who stated this, maintained that 3,500 megawatts of electricity was also lost as a result of gas flaring.

According to Maseli, no fewer than 55 million barrels of oil equivalent (BOE) was also lost, while 25 million tons of carbon dioxide was emitted within the period under review.

Giving account of efforts made by DPR to maximize the use of gas in the country, Maseli explained that the regulator has developed policies on gas terms and utilization, which had been passed to operators for their input before onward dispatch to the National Assembly for passage.

A delegation from global energy provider Eni, headed by Chief Financial Officer Massimo Mondazzi, has, also given a presentation to the World Bank that reinforced the group’s continued commitment to sustainable growth in Nigeria and Africa.

Speaking at the World Bank’s headquarters in Washington, Mr. Mondazzi underlined Eni’s resilience in the current economic environment, but also spoke of the company’s efforts to allow a wider access to energy in the Sub-Saharan region of Africa.