In a recent report, BudgIT has released projections which indicate that Nigeria could lose as much as N9 trillion to gas flaring in the next 10 years if urgent control measures are not put in place by the Federal Government.
According to the report titled “Gas flaring- A real and present danger”, the civic tech organisation revealed that 14.33 percent of total gas produced in the country is flared, costing Nigeria about N2.5 billion annually.
BudgIT’s projections indicate that if flaring continues at that rate, Nigeria could lose N9 trillion, which amounts to the sum total of eighteen times the 2017 health capital budget which was N51 billion.
According to the report, the projected loss of N9 trillion could build 35,000 primary health care centres, generate power supply to the tune of 2.5 gigawatts and build a road network of 100,000 kilometres capacity.
The report also revealed that between 2001 and 2016, the volume of gas produced in the country increased by 91.13 percent while the volume of gas flared reduced by only 38.06 percent. This, according to the organisation, was a reflection of oil companies’ “aversion to invest sufficiently in technologies and infrastructure aimed at reducing routine gas flaring.”
BudgIT stated that the use of technologies and infrastructure do very little about reducing gas flaring by refusing to invest in technologies which enhance the processing of gas.
Among other things, BudgIT urged the federal government to strengthen penalty enforcement on companies that flare gas. According to the report, if government uses a new penalty rate of $3.5 per 1,000 Standard Cubic Feet (SCF) of gas at an exchange rate of N200 to a dollar, Nigeria could earn N2.86 trillion in 8 years, going by 4.085 trillion SCF of gas flared between 2008 and 2016.
Drawing reference from the environmental implications of gas flaring on host communities, the report noted that gas flaring is a major cause of air pollution in oil-producing communities, and according to regulatory reports, Nigeria accounts for 40 percent of all gas flared in Africa.
Communities like Polaku in Bayelsa State and Ogu in Rivers state, were used as case studies in the report to show the “severe health crisis” suffered, by residents, from toxic chemicals released into the ground, water and into the atmosphere during gas flaring.
Some of the health conditions outlined in the report include deformities in children, lung damage, pneumonia, asthma, bronchitis, and blood disorders.
Referring to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) estimation of 600,000 deaths in Africa resulting from air pollution, the report said gas flaring activities could wipe out a small oil producing community like Polaku, in one year.
In his recommendations, Oluseun Onigbinde, lead consultant at BudgIT, said:
“BudgIT is calling on the federal government to muster the political will necessary to execute Nigeria’s gas master plan and to enforce regulations aimed at tangibly achieving Zero Routine Gas Flaring.
“Also, proceeds from gas flare penalties can be channelled towards funding health-related research in the Niger Delta region, to protect the residents and improve their living conditions.”