By Kingsley Okoye
Abuja – The Senate on Wednesday urged the Federal Government to intensify efforts to diversify from crude oil to natural gas production.
The call by the Senate followed the adoption of a motion at Plenary on the need to monitor the Nigerian Flare Commercialisation Programme towards ending Gas Flaring by 2020.
The motion was sponsored by Sen.Betty Apiafi, (PDP Rivers) and co-sponsored by 47 other senators.
Apiafi,while presenting her motion at the plenary, noted that gas flaring is the burning of natural gas that is associated with the extraction of crude oil.
She said that the data obtained from the World Bank Global Gas Flaring Reduction Partnership in 2018nindicated that Nigeria was the sixth largest gas flaring country globally and the second largest in Africa after Algeria.
She said that there were long standing laws against the flaring of associated natural gas in Nigeria which action had been deemed illegal since 1984.
” Section 3(1) of the Associated Gas Re-injection Act, CAP A25 LFN 2004 states that no company engaged in the production of oil and gas shall after January 1, 1984 flare gas produced in association with or without the permission in writing of the minister,” she said.
She said it was a concern about the huge revenue loss due to unrelenting gas flares in the country.
Apiafi said flaring of associated natural gas was simply burning of money.
“In 2018 alone, according to data obtained from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Oil and gas firms operating in the country flared a total of 215.9 billion standard cubic feet of natural gas amounting to a revenue loss of more than N197 billion .
She noted that Nigeria has the largest natural gas reserve in Africa and ninth largest in the world.
She said the Niger Delta region gas flares had been wreaking havoc across communities since the early 1960s.
Apiafi said the emission was also affecting the economy and the environment.
She said the failure of the government to enforce laws against gas flaring had exposed people living around nearby flare sites to various environmental disorders.
This,she said, had cost the country trillions of naira in revenues.
She noted that natural gas,when harnessed properly was a source of energy for heating, cooking, electricity generation, fuel for vehicles and chemical feedstock for the manufacture of commercially important organic chemicals.
She commended the recent Nigerian Gas Flare Commercialisation Programme (NGFCP) inaugurated in 2016 by the Federal Government through the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation.
She said the programme was designed to provide a commercial approach for the elimination of routine gas flares by 2020.
The senator said the lack of enforcement of the laws on gas flaring in previous years was thwarting the governments’ projected deadline of 2020 to end routine associated gas flaring.
”The year 2019 is coming to an end and there seems to be a lack of commitment to enforce the laws on gas flaring still.
” So, it is therefore very necessary for affirmative action to be taken through fines, penalties and alternative technology investments to achieve the 2020.
Following her presentation, the Senate also resolved to set up an ad hoc committee with the mandate to monitor the implementation of the NGFCP.
The Senate also resolved to review and recommend upwards penalty for non-compliance in line with global best practices.