Emmanuel Addeh in Abuja
Operators in the Nigerian oil and gas sector reduced flared gas by a meagre 500 million Standard Cubit Feet (SCF) to hit 9.5 billion SCF in January compared with 10 billion SCF the previous month, THISDAY findings have shown.
However, the 9.5 billion SCF burnt in January was 200 million SCF higher than the 9.3 billion SCF flared in November, according to new data from the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPC).
A breakdown of the figure indicated that while 323 million SCF of gas was flared everyday during the month of December, it decreased to 307 million SCF in January as against 313 million SCF practically sent into the environment in November.
The World Bank recently stated that burning off natural gas during oil production (flaring) comes with significant environmental and economic costs, noting that in addition to wasting a valuable source of energy, flaring has negative impact on human health.
The practice is prevalent in oil-producing Sub-Saharan African (SSA) countries, with Nigeria, which has the largest proven gas reserves in Africa, contributing the most to flaring on the continent.
Nigeria is one of the top seven gas-flaring countries and it is estimated that around 2 million people in the country live less than 4 km away from a flare site.
According to the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA), which monitors the burning of gas in the country, the molecules are burnt off, or ‘flared’, as part of the oil production process.
It stated that gas has been flared in Nigeria since the 1950s, releasing carbon dioxide and other gases into the atmosphere and remains a continuing source of environmental and health concerns in the Niger Delta, despite efforts to reduce it.
“When crude oil is extracted from onshore and offshore oil wells, it brings raw natural gas with it to the surface. If it is not possible to use it at source or transport it elsewhere, it is flared as a waste product. This also helps prevent accidents,” it explained on its website.
In 2022, NOSDRA said that 12 million tonnes of CO2 were emitted into the atmosphere contributing to global warming while useful natural gas valued at $0.79 billion was burned by the Nigerian oil and gas industry equivalent to fines to the value of $450 million, many of which it said are not collected.
In addition, it explained that 22,500 Gigawatts hours of potential power generation went to waste, equivalent to the annual electricity use of 511 million Nigerian citizens.
In the latest NNPC data, Mobil remained the biggest culprit in terms of amount of gas flared during the period, with 1.76 billion SCF of flared gas, but significantly less than its 2.52 billion SCF flared gas in December 2022.
It was followed by Shell which burnt 1.2 billion SCF as against the 1.1 billion SCF it sent into the environment where it operates in December with an increase of 100 million SCF. Addax, which was recently taken over by the NNPC also did 1.05 billion SCF compared to the 1.13 billion SCF the previous month.
However, in terms of percentage flared in relation to total production, the figures showed that 5.90 per cent of gas produced by Mobil was flared during the period, while 63.89 per cent of Addax’s production was burnt.
During the period, Shell’s share of flared gas in terms of percentage was rose to 4.92 per cent compared with 4.27 per cent in December.
Like in the previous month, of the about 30 oil firms reviewed in the provisional gas production and utilisation data by the national oil company, operators like Belema, Seplat and NPDC/CNL flared 100 per cent of the gas they produced for the period.
They were followed by AENR, which flared 95 per cent, First E&P with 94 per cent, reducing by 2 per cent and Newcross with 94.4 per cent flaring of total gas produced in January.
However, Nigeria’s total gas production for the month, both associated and natural gas was 160 billion SCF as against 147.8 billion SCF and 154 billion SCF the two previous months. This output was from both the country’s Joint Venture (JV) arrangements and Production Sharing Contracts (PSC).
In addition, average daily production from both PSCs and JVs was 5.16 billion SCF/d, higher than the 4.77 billion SCF/d in December.
Last year, a NOSDRA report said that Nigeria flared 216.5 billion standard cubic feet of gas in about eleven months despite its commitment in November 2021 to reach net zero by 2060.
Nigeria has over 178 flare sites which emit poisonous chemicals that cause all kinds of environmental damage and make people that around the areas fall sick.