Reps call for review of Nigeria’s energy policy, unhappy over policy somersault

• Nigeria rolls out 2025 zero-flare gas deadline ― Minister

The House of Representatives on Monday underscored the need for the review of Nigeria’s energy policy as well as enforcement of the zero gas flaring policy in the country.

In his keynote address at the one-day public hearing on the ‘Need to end gas flaring in Nigeria and harness associated gas’, held at the instance of the joint House Committee on Gas Resources, Environment and Climate Change, the Speaker, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila frowned at futile efforts made by successive administrations on the initiative.

“We have gathered here today to fulfil the resolutions reached that day, including the charge to investigate the level of devastation caused by gas flaring and the level of regulatory compliance by multinationals in the Petroleum Upstream sector.

“The conversation about gas flaring in Nigeria has been going on for a long time. Unfortunately, those conversations have not yielded the desired results. We have not managed to end the environmental damage that results from gas flaring, and we are still deprived of the economic benefits of full utilisation of gas resources in our country.

“In this 9th House of Representatives, we intend to do everything we can to change this narrative. We will convene stakeholders to deliberate and resolve the policy disagreements and other issues that have mitigated against the effective utilisation of gas resources. Following that, we will take legislative action through bills and oversight to achieve the ambitions we hold in this regard,” Hon. Gbajabiamila assured.

In his goodwill message, Minister of Petroleum Resources, Senator Timiprye Sylva, however, observed that Nigeria has made remarkable progress in reducing gas flaring to 8 percent, introduction of the national gas expansion programme; autogas programme and gas penetration programme as part of ongoing efforts aimed at attaining zero flare gas in the country.

“The issue of gas flaring is something that the ministry take very seriously. There is a global consensus on the elimination of gas flaring by 2025. Today, we have reduced the issue of gas flaring to a minimum 8 percent.

“We believe, with all the programmes lined up, that we are on course to achieve complete elimination of gas flaring by 2025. We take the issue of gas flaring in the ministry very seriously,” the minister said.

Speaking earlier, Lead Chairman of the joint committee, Hon. Mutu Nicholas Ebomo, reiterated the resolve of the House towards putting an end to this unjustifiable perennial problem of gas flaring in the petroleum industry.

“Gas flare is a malady that we must work together to eliminate at the shortest time possible, because of its all-round adverse effects on the environment and socio-economic well-being of the people of Niger Delta region, as well as, on the fiscal measures of the Federal Government.

“At current estimates by PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PwC), Nigeria loses over $750 million in annual revenue from flared gas. The gas that is being flared is feedstock for other industries, which if properly harnessed would stimulate economic growth, create jobs and provide income for midstream companies and earn revenue for Government through taxes.

“However, gas flaring releases toxins into the atmosphere, increasing carbon emission and greenhouse gases with the attendant climate change consequences to our environment.

“Thus, flared gas is an enormous health, safety and environmental hazard to the peoples of the Niger Delta region, and beyond. Investigations show that over 250 identified toxins and metals are released in the region from gas flaring.

“Generally, the toxins pollute the environment and contribute to greenhouse gases. Specifically, the toxins are responsible for acid rains, which is corrosive and causes widespread damage to vegetation and surface waters of the Niger Delta ecosystems. The effect on drinkable water and human health is a link to diseases as cancer and reproduction complications.

“Evidently, Nigerian government’s efforts to stop gas flaring have been inadequate and ineffective since 1979 when Nigeria made the first legislative attempt to address the problem of gas flare. Zero-flare das deadlines have routinely shifted to future dates.

“We thus commend government for the 2018 Gas Flare regulation which imposes the penalty of $2.00 per million standard cubic feet (MMSCF) of gas flared. Still, we would like to stress the need for compliance with the provisions of the penalty regime. Since the Gas Flare regulation was released in 2018, this committee has received reports on flare volume discrepancies.

“As part of our legislative oversight, therefore, we hope to work with stakeholders to deploy an early warning mechanism to track gas flare volumes; and to ensure that penalties are correctly paid for flared gas. This public hearing provides us another opportunity to examine the problem frankly, openly, and come up with comprehensive, integrated proposals to cure the gas flaring in Nigeria.

“With such expectation in our minds, this gathering would do well to give attention also to a review of Nigeria’s energy policy, because Such policy would have vast and valid implications for the uses to which flare gas could be put, instead. It would not be sufficient to frame a timeline for zero tolerance of gas flare. It is equally important to consider programmes and projects for the harvested associated gas (AG).

“This necessarily entails the consideration of a host of issues in the gas value chain, from exploration, development, infrastructure to off-takers and end-users. The goal is to boost our economy, create jobs for our youths, develop local content in the industry, and for government to have additional revenue,” he noted.

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