The Nigerian Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) has quantified the loss that the country has made to gas flaring as more than $850 million a year. Nigeria is the ninth largest gas producing country in the world.
Around 75 million Nigerians do not have access to electricity, yet the flaring of gas means the country is losing the equivalent of 3,500 megawatts of electricity generation annually. The loss equates to around $5 per person per year. In a country where the annual GDP per capita is as low as $2500, it is easy to see why the country is concerned.
The data was shared by Pat Maseli of the DPR at the 10th Annual sub-Saharan Africa Oil and Gas Conference in Houston, Texas. She commented “55 million Barrels of Oil Equivalent (BOE) was lost and 25 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emitted (by gas flaring)”
On a positive note, the amount of gas flaring in Nigeria is in decline – between 2012 and 2015 the country reduced flaring by 20%.
Gas is flared when it cannot be captured safely during the extraction process. However, there is growing concern globally that flaring has become a default position for companies that do not have an economically viable way to store gas. If this is the case, an increasingly scarce and valuable natural resource is simply being lost, whilst the flared gas increases the emissions of CO2, harming the planet.
This is why the World Bank has championed the Global Gas Flaring Reduction Partnership (GGFR). This public-private initiative comprises international and national oil companies, national and regional governments, and international institutions, committed to reducing the amount of routine gas flaring to zero.
Nigeria’s recent reduction in flaring is welcome; as is the recent announcement that Iraq has committed to end routine flaring by 2030. The GGFR continues to gain impetus globally, which can only be positive for the future capture and safe storage of natural gas. However, the sheer scale of the losses incurred by gas flaring in Nigeria and beyond is still a cause for concern.
The 25 million tonnes of CO2 produced by flaring in Nigeria is the equivalent to the annual emissions from 5.3 million cars (according to figures from the USA Environmental Protection Agency) which is reason enough to ensure flaring is reduced. Regardless of the environmental consequences, Nigeria ranks 132nd in the world for GDP per capital according to the United Nations. It is easy to see why the estimated loss of almost one billion dollars per year to the annual economy is being taken seriously.