March 9, 2017

Bill to prohibit gas flaring passes second reading at Senate

Bill to prohibit gas flaring passes second reading at Senate

Senate Chamber

The Bill for an Act to Prohibit Flaring of Natural Gas in Nigeria and Other Matters, 2017, passed second reading at the Senate on Thursday.

The bill is sponsored by the Chairman, Senate Committee on Gas, Sen. Albert Bassey.

Leading debate on the bill, Bassey said that flaring natural gas was one of the most dangerous environmental and energy waste practices in the country’s petroleum industry.

According to him, gas flaring has adverse effect on the environment and human health.

The lawmaker said that the practice had caused economic losses to the nation, depriving it of tax revenue and trade opportunities and clean and cheaper energy source for citizens.

“Available data from the NNPC has shown that Nigeria lost billions in revenue last year.

“The volume of gas flared is sufficient to generate reasonable quantity of megawatts of electricity. This is not to say the unquantifiable social, health and environmental impacts.

“It appears that the euphoria of oil discovery and commencement of production in 1958 blinded Nigerians as there was no provision to handle gas in association with oil.

“Government neither stipulated any law nor guidance during the nascent period of our oil production history.

“All efforts to stop the flaring of natural gas has not been effective and Nigerians have remained the victims of lack of Gas Flaring Prohibition Act,’’ he said.

Bassey said that when passed, the bill would help to provide a strong legal framework for effective monitoring and regulation of gas activities in line with current realities.

He said that the bill would equally address the inadequacies of the 1979 Act by stipulating adequate penalties.

He explained that the bill sought to ensure achievement of the nation, play out target of Jan 1, 2030 in line with the United Nations Charter.

Contributing, Chairman of Committee on Finance, Sen. John Enoh, said it was disheartening that Nigeria was still battling with stopping gas flaring.

He said that several deadlines had been set to end it but that nothing meaningful had been achieved.

He called for the passage of the bill in order to put strict measures in place to tackle the problems posed by the flaring of gas.

“We remain an amazing country. Since 1958 we are still talking about what to do about gas flaring. So, we have to put in measures to make it expensive to flare gas,’’ Enoh said.

Other lawmakers supported the bill in view of the hazards gas flaring posed to the economy.

In his remarks, the Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu, who presided at the plenary, said that Nigeria was not in short supply of laws and regulations.

Ekweremadu said that the problem was poor enforcement of the laws and regulations.

“In addition to making these laws, I believe that we should also wake up to our responsibility regarding the issue of oversight.

“This is because that is the only the way we can get the enforcement agencies and regulatory agencies to be alive to their responsibilities.

“If we all do our work from the National Assembly to the enforcement and regulatory agencies, I am sure we will be able to get some of these things right,’’ he said.

Passage of the bill for third reading was made through a unanimous vote by the lawmakers.