AFTER years of foot-dragging over indiscriminate gas flaring which has wreaked serious havoc in oil-producing communities of the Niger Delta it is heart-warming that the authorities are taking renewed concrete steps to end the unhealthy practice.
According to the Group Managing Director, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, Dr. Maikanti Baru, a three-point strategy is in the works to ensure that zero flare is achieved in the country within the next two years.
“Total flares have been significantly reduced to current levels of about 800 million standard cubic feet per day , MMSCFD, and in the next 1-2 years we would have completely ensured zero routine flares from all the gas producers”, Baru was quoted as saying at the ongoing 50th Offshore Technology Conference, OTC, in Houston, Texas, the United States of America.
The NNPC boss explained that to end gas flaring in future, all companies must submit Field Development Plans, FDPs, to the industry regulator, the Department Petroleum Resources, DPR, which must be accompanied with viable and executable gas utilisation plans.
This will be consolidated with a steady reduction of existing flares through a combination of targeted policy interventions in the Gas Master-plan and the re-invigoration of the flare penalty through the 2016 Nigeria Gas Flare Commercialisation Programme, NGFCP.
Baru envisages that this intervention would not only see Nigeria dropping from being the second highest gas flaring nation in the world to seventh
it would also signify a major milestone in its gas commercialisation prospects.
Given the serious environmental effects of gas flaring which have continued to undermine lives as well as the economic losses recorded in the process, we welcome the NNPC initiative and hope it will receive adequate support from government, other industry operators and stakeholders.
We also hope this will not go the way of several past policy statements on ending gas flaring that did not see the light of day. Everything should be done to put an end to the sufferings of several communities in Delta, Bayelsa, Rivers and Akwa Ibom states who have all these years continued to endure the unhealthy and environmentally-damaging effects of acid rain and heat.
As a recent special report by Vanguard on gas flaring in the area revealed, the people are constantly exposed to health hazards associated with flaring. These include frequent outbreak of ailments that health experts find difficult dealing with such as the stunted growth of children. Apart from that, uncontrolled gas flaring has left the people having to contend with acidic rain water, corroded roofs, crumbling structures as well as polluted rivers, creeks and rivulets.
Gas flaring is a shame to the image of Nigeria and must be brought to an end.