Worried by the huge socioeconomic losses incurred by the country as a result of gas flaring, Mr. Weyinmi Richards, an oil and gas expert has suggested practical steps to tackle the menace.Speaking in an interview with The Nation from his Sapele base, in Delta State, recently, Richards described as scandalous the inability of the federal government to address the lingering issue of gas flaring in the oil-rich Niger Delta.
“The federal government has been talking about the problem of gas flaring and the need to stop it for as long as I can remember. There has been too much talk but less action,” he said.
Oil and gas firms operating in the country flared a total of 282.08 billion standard cubic feet of natural gas in 2018, amounting to a potential loss of N234bn.
Data obtained by our correspondent from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation showed that the volume of gas flared last year fell slightly from 287.59 billion scf in 2017.
The data also revealed that gas supply in the country increased to 2.83 trillion scf last year from 2.79 trillion scf in 2017 and 2.58 trillion scf in 2016.
The firms, including international and indigenous operators, wasted 31.68 billion scf of gas in January; 27.25 billion scf in February; 26.88bn scf in March; 23.06 billion scf in April; 21.20 billion scf in May and 21.66 billion scf in June.
According to him, gas flaring should be seen as a blessing in disguise rather than a curse. Citing the case of Omoku town, in Rivers State, with a population of about 200,000 people, which enjoys relatively stable power supply thanks to oil companies like Shell Petroleum Development Company, Total Exploration & Production Nigeria and Nigerian Agip Oil Company.
“If you go to Omoku, they don’t pay electricity bill. But they have 24 hours uninterrupted power. How did they do that? It’s simple. Omoku gets electricity from gas turbines from Agip. We’re talking about gas flaring, gas flaring, all we need to do is to do is to ensure that that gas that is being flared if we channel it to drive the gas turbines, we will have electricity. All it takes is to rechannel it. Let there be constant flow. As that gas is been flared, it powers it. Now the gas is being flared and wasted. Rechanneling it shouldn’t cost us the world,” he stressed.
Expatiating, he said, “If we rechannel it and send it to drive an impeller that is connected to a turbine, you will have electricity supply nonstop because that gas will continuously be flared and it will continuously be generating electricity.
“What it takes is for the federal government to take the bold step and putting a policy in place for that. What is wrong if government insist that for every 50 kilometres into the town from an oil well, the company must provide electricity? Put it as a policy statement and let the National Assembly approve it for it to be implemented. Right now, DISCOs are supplying electricity to all those villages. If this becomes a policy, electricity hitherto supplied to the villages can be supplied to the cities and it will add more to the grid. These are little things that policy can just change,” he reiterated