Nigeria lost N891bn to gas flaring in 18 months, according to data from the Nigerian Oil Spill Monitor, an arm of the Nigerian Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency, NOSDRA, released on Sunday.
The data revealed that the country lost a total of N707bn in 2021 and N184bn in the first half of 2022, totaling N891bn.
According to the NOSDRA report, oil and gas companies operating in the country flared a total of 126 billion standard cubic feet, SCF, of gas in the first half of 2022, leading to a loss of $441.2 million, (about N183.54 bn) in the six-month period.
On the other hand, in 2021, about 23,862.271 barrels of oil (3,770,238.864 litres/119 tanker trucks) were spilled.
Brent International was sold for an average of $71 per barrel in 2021, bringing total revenue loss in that year to $1.7m.
The estimation put the equivalent of the volume of gas flared in the first half of 2022 to carbon dioxide, CO2 emission of 6.7 million tonnes in the oil producing areas, 4.56 per cent higher than the 120.5 billion SCF of gas flared in the second half of 2021, and capable of generating 12,600 gigawatts hours of electricity.
On the other hand, the quantity of gas flared in the first six months of 2021 was capable of generating 14,000 gigawatt-hour of electricity, and an equivalent of 7.4 million tonnes of CO2 emission.
Giving a breakdown of the gas flared in the country in the first six months of 2022, the agency disclosed that while companies operating in the offshore oilfields flared 62.2 billion SCF of gas, companies operating onshore flared 63.9 billion SCF of gas, valued at $223.6 million.
In 2021, there were around 382 publicly available oil spill records. Out of the 382 occurrences, a total of 33 of these oil spill sites were not visited by a joint investigation team, and 122 of these had no estimated quantity of oil spilled provided by the companies involved.
Two major oil spills were recorded in 2021, with over 250 barrels spilled into inland waters, or over 2,500 barrels spilled on land, swamp, shoreline and open sea, the report said.
A total of seven medium oil spills incidents were recorded in 2021, with 25-250 barrels spilled into inland waters, or 250-2,500 barrels spilled on land, swamp, shoreline and open sea.
In terms of minor oil spills, about 239 cases were recorded as up to 25 barrels spilled into inland waters, or 250 barrels on land, swamp, shoreline and open sea.
About 174 of the spills were under 10 barrels in size, while 128 oil spills could not be categorised, according to the report.
According to the NOSDRA report, gas is burnt off or flared as part of the oil production process.
However, the Federal Government had, in recent years, led campaigns for gas monetisation as against flaring.
NOSDRA lamented that despite efforts to reduce gas flaring, it had been flared in Nigeria since the 1950s, releasing carbon dioxide and other gaseous substances into the atmosphere, and had continuously led to environmental and health challenges in oil producing areas.
Chairman, Society of Petroleum Engineers, SPE Nigeria Council, Prof. Olalekan Olafuyi, told The PUNCH in an interview that the Federal Government would increase gas flaring penalties as Nigeria raced towards achieving its commitment to the United Nations net zero goal by 2060.
Although he did not state how much increase the flare rates would attract, he stated that the Council was working closely with the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission, NUPRC.
“We are working closely with the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission, and I can categorically say that companies who flare gas will now pay more than those utilising it. So, it will be to their advantage to start thinking of ways to utilise their gas instead of flaring them,” he said.
Currently, companies producing more than 10, 000bpd pay a fine of $2 per 1000 Standard scf of gas flared. Companies producing less than 10, 000bpd pay $0.5 per 1000bpd, while they pay $0.5 per 1000scf of gas flared.
In 2020 alone, natural gas valued at $1.24bn was flared by oil companies.
Deputy Managing Director, Deep Water, TotalEnergies EP Nigeria, Victor Bandele, told The PUNCH that Nigeria was better off when it converted all gas flared into commercial use.
President Muhammadu Buhari had, in June, ordered for the full audit of the accounts of Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project, HYPREP (a body in charge of oil spill cleanup in the Niger Delta) from inception to date, and also approved the reorganisation of its operations.