Energy & Technology

Gas Flaring in Nigeria: Effects and Consequences

Gas flaring in Nigeria

What do you know about Gas flaring? What about gas flaring in Nigeria? Gas flaring, the burning of associated gas, is now a topic every environmentalist and individual is talking about in their countries and worldwide. Ranging from effects to penalties, your questions will be answered in this article.

What is Gas Flaring?

Gas flaring is the burning of associated gas (gas produced alongside petroleum from beneath the earth’s surface) when it is produced to the surface. Gas flaring was introduced as a method to “get rid” of produced gas as a result to having little or no infrastructure to process and store gas. Gradually, this method of produced gas disposal became a norm across most oil firms resulting in continuous release of GHS (greenhouse gases) and inevitably, climate change.

Gas flaring in Nigeria
Gas flaring in Nigeria

Gas Flaring in Nigeria.

Gas flaring in Nigeria has been a problem that has remained untackled. Although anti-flaring policies have been introduced, no organization has taken it seriously enough to monitor oil companies. According to premium times, Nigeria in 2020 alone flared $1.24 billion worth of gas and this quantity of gas flared could have been channeled into electricity generation. Gas flaring in Nigeria happens because there is no apparent use for produced natural gas due to absence of proper gas processing and storage facilities, the absence of a gas market and again the quantity of associated gas is always in excess. 

Is Gas Flaring in Nigeria illegal? 

Yes. Apparently, it is. Gas flaring in Nigeria has been illegal since 1984 but this hasn’t stopped the flaring of gas, has it? Now let me tell you why gas flaring in Nigeria still stands.

Is there a Penalty for Gas Flaring in Nigeria?

A policy against gas flaring set up and monitored by the DPR (Department of Petroleum Resources) states a fine of $0.5 USD per 1000 cubic feet for fields with a production rate of 10000 barrels per day and a fine of $2 USD per 1000 cubic feet for fields with a production rate higher than 10000 barrels per day. Due to the fact that the consequences of gas flaring in Nigeria is monetary and small compared to the cost of capturing, processing and storing associated gas, oil companies prefer to flare gases and just pay the fine.

What are the effects of Gas Flaring in Nigeria?

Gas flaring is a global challenge and its adverse effects has made it catch even more attention. So what are the effects of gas flaring in Nigeria?

1. Climate Change :  Climate change becomes more and more of a challenge with each passing day. Continuous gas flaring, especially in developing countries like Nigeria, is contributing to global warming and further depletion of the ozone layer by the release of GHS (greenhouse gases) such as Carbon dioxide and even the venting of methane straight into the atmosphere is aiding global warming.

Gas flaring in Nigeria
Climate change due to Gas flaring in Nigeria

2. Health Implications: The release of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane, and even the release of soot (generated during flaring) into the atmosphere has led to serious pollution of the air in Nigeria and even globally. 

Some of the health implications of gas flaring in Nigeria are deformities in children, lung diseases, cancer, anemia, leukemia and lots more. In developing countries where we have little or no availability of health care centers and basic infrastructures, I wonder what they must be going through.

3. Pollution: Air pollution, water pollution and even soil pollution are on the rise in most countries due to gas flaring. Gas flaring and methane venting over the years have led to the sharp increase of air pollution, water pollution and even soil pollution. Thereby putting the occupations of people in the rural areas at stake.

4. Agriculture: Gas flaring in Nigeria and gas venting leads to the release of other gases such as NO2 and SO2. These gases in high concentration leads to loss of soil nutrients leading to less vegetation and decreased crop yield. In Delta State, a study was carried out to analyze the effects of gas flaring in Nigeria on crops. It was concluded that gas flaring, the release of gases into the atmosphere and warming led to retardation in crop growth, less yields, and even loss of crop nutrients.

5. Loss of Revenue: Since gas is lost to the atmosphere, revenue that would have been generated from millions and billions of cubic feet of gas is also lost.

6. Acid Rain: An acid rain is a mixture, in the atmosphere, of greenhouse gases gotten from industrial emissions and atmospheric moisture. Acid rains lead to corrosion of roof tops, decay of building materials, destroys vegetation, increases the acidity of the soil and has several health implications.

Gas flaring has been around for so long, it seems almost impossible to just end it. But its possible. Now here’s the good part. The solutions to the problem of gas flaring in Nigeria and worldwide.

READ ALSO: Green Hydrogen and Ammonia: Recent Advancements

Solutions to gas flaring in Nigeria and worldwide

Let’s begin by analyzing the problem. Gas flaring is existing mostly because of inadequate processing and storage facilities and lack of a gas market to consume produced gas. This implies that to solve the problem we need:

1. Electricity Generation (Power Grids): A gas market for consumption of gas can be set up in each country. This market should comprise of areas where gas can be consumed such as in power grids. Gas can be burnt or employed to fuel engines for the generation of electricity at power grids. 

Internet of energy
Internet of energy

2. Industrial Applications / Manufacturing: Gas can also be utilized industrially for the manufacture of goods such as cement, ceramics petrochemicals etcetera.

3. Design of Gas Processing and Storage Infrastructures: Gas flaring in Nigeria is mostly due to the absence of storage facilities, processing facilities and even means of transportation. If all of these can be put in place, then we can have hope of one day seeing gas flaring and global warming as a myth.

4. CNG Stations Near Fields: If CNG (compressed natural gas) fueling stations can be set up near fields were gas is produced, compressed gas can used to fuel cars and can even be used to power plants used on field for exploitation.

If only produced gases (associated gases) that ought to be flared are channeled into power generation and into the gas market to maximize profits, we would have job creation and even drive towards providing huge revenue for the government.  Not to mention, we would have a greener, cleaner future deviant of excessive CO2.

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