Nigeria loses 3,000 MW to gas flaring

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The Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), July 27, in Lagos, released to journalists who report energy, a document which among other things stated that Nigeria’s flared gas can generate additional 3, 000 MW of electricity.
This is not the first time government is acknowledging how wasteful and toxic gas flaring is to Nigeria’s economic and social development road map.

At the 50th Off-shore Technology Conference (OTC) in Houston, Texas, May 2018, Mikanti Baru, the Group Managing Director of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation promised that gas flaring in Nigeria will end in 2019 or 2020.

Baru said Nigeria has reduced flared gas from 25 percent to 10 percent. This has moved Nigeria from the second to the seventh largest gas flaring country. There are some obstacles to realising this goal, legal framework and political will especially.

What is gas flaring?

Gas flaring is the burning of natural gas that is associated with crude oil when it is pumped up from the ground. In petroleum-producing areas where insufficient investment was made in infrastructure to utilise natural gas, flaring is employed to dispose of this associated gas.

The process of burning these excess gases is similar to the burning of liquefied petroleum gases (LPG), which some Nigerians use as fuel for home cooking.

Cost to Nigeria’s economy – power generation

The National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) estimates that Nigeria loses N868 million daily to gas flaring because oil and gas firms operating within its territory flare 700 million standard cubic feet of gas per day.

In terms of power generation, the DPR says Nigeria can add 3, 000 MW to its installed capacity, when flared gas is harnessed.

BusinessDay’s estimates show that additional 3, 000 MW can power three thousand households in Nigeria. This is because an average Nigerian household would need 1000kWh per month, depending on the energy efficiency of appliances. At 1000kWh per month, three thousand households can be powered. Here is the reasoning.

An average Nigerian middle class household uses about 300 kWh of electricity per month, which costs an average of N7500 but this is not sufficient to satisfy most families’ power needs because they receive electricity an average of six hours per day for 30 days in a month.

Twenty-four hours of electricity, means the bill could go up to N30,000 per month and that would give about 1200 kWh which can satisfy an average Nigerian family of today. An average Nigerian household would then need at least 1000 kWh worth of it per day but that may not be so quick in coming.

So, if every Nigerian family has at least 1000 kWh of electricity per month, it would make life easier for them but since electricity generation is not sufficient for all Nigerians who need it, the power company normally does what is called load shedding, which means rationing of electricity to people and this offers about four to six hours of electricity on the average per day.

Nigeria has over 150 flare sites, flaring hundreds of billions of standard cubic feet (scf) of natural gas each year (in 2015, Nigeria flared 800MMscfpd of associated gas), losing billions of dollars’ worth of economic potential to gas flaring. The Nigeria Flared Gas Commercialisation Programme (NGFCP), seeks to reverse this trend.

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Environmental and health costs

On environment cost, acid rains have been linked to the activities of gas flaring Corrugated roofs in the Delta region have been corroded by the composition of the rain that falls as a result of flaring. The primary causes of acid rain are emissions of sulphur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxides (NO) which combine with atmospheric moisture to form sulfuric acid and nitric acid respectively. Size and environmental philosophy in the industry have very strong positive impact on the gas-flaring-related CO2 emission

The implication of gas flaring on human health are all related to the exposure of those hazardous air pollutants emitted during incomplete combustion of gas flare. These pollutants are associated with a variety of adverse health impacts, including cancer, neurological, reproductive and developmental effects. Deformities in children, lung damage and skin problems have also been reported.

Hydrocarbon compounds are known to cause some adverse changes in hematological parameters. These changes affect blood and blood-forming cells negatively. And could give rise to anemia (aplastic), pancytopenia and leukemia.

What is being done to reduce gas flaring in Nigeria?

The federal government initiated the Nigeria Gas Flare Commercialisation Programme (NGFCP) with an objective to provide a commercial approach to the elimination of routine gas flares by 2020 and to drive positive social, environmental and economic impact in the Niger Delta by mobilising private sector capital towards gas flare capture project.

Zero Routine Gas Flaring Programme: Introduced by the World Bank, this programme brings together governments, oil companies, and development institutions that recognise gas flaring is unsustainable from a resource management and environmental perspective. All parties therefore agree to cooperate to eliminate routine flaring no later than 2030.

Nigeria is one of the 27 governments that have endorsed World Bank’s Zero Routine Flaring by 2030. This means her government will enable the requisite legal, regulatory, investment; an operating environment conducive to upstream investments; ensure the development of viable markets for utilization of the gas, as well as provide the infrastructure necessary to deliver the gas to these markets.

Culled from: Business Day

Image credit: Wartsila

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