Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Gas Flares: the solution is simple

The lead story in the Independent today is on gas flaring in Nigeria. Its about time there was more global attention placed on this issue; it was deeply saddening to see that it was not higher on the agenda at Copenhagen. There was a real opportunity at the climate conference to call for a strict deadline to be enforced in Nigeria; it didn't happen.

The amount of gas flared in the Niger Delta is a staggering amount (2.5 billion cubic feet per day), easily enough to satisfy Nigeria and its neighbours energy needs at present and a significant contribution to greenhouse gas emissions. The gas flared in Nigeria meets Germany's entire energy needs.

The majors have ignored all bans on gas flaring in Nigeria for years. Gas flaring creates acid rain, fills the air with particulates and is directly responsible for the early deaths of thousands of people in the Niger Delta. At some point, Shell and co may well face corporate manslaughter charges. For the moment, the Nigerian government needs to significantly increase gas flare penalties and enforce them (beginning with ensuring that the amount of flared gas from each source is accurately measured). The question of why they have not thought to do so in the past is a good one. The policy to end gas flaring would be based on a simple calculation: make it more expensive to pay gas flare penalties than it costs to convert flared gas into useable energy (mini power stations at the source, providing ample electricity for host communities). Enforcement would also be simple: either you comply, or we withdraw your licence.


Anonymous,  7:13 am  

Good talk, oga J.

....but wait o! Something doesn't compute; Nija flares enough gas to supply Germany's energy needs, apparently.

Then how can the solution to flaring be 'simply' tapping it for host communities' needs?

The issue is not so simple. It is huge in scale and significance and Nigeria is currently incapable of dealing with the problem.

Good to raise it as a talking point, though.


Concerned reader,  3:26 pm  

Modibbo, Nigeria has been "incapable" of dealing with the problem since the 60s or whenever...when will they become capable? Will they ever become capable? It is this kind of laissez-faire attitude that has made the country the big mess it is today.

Gas flaring is the equivalent of someone coming to your house, using all your stuff and then pissing by your front door on the way out. It's a crude analogy - but the point is: it doesn't matter how much that person pays you to do that, it's just not right and I'm sure you wouldn't be so accommodating as to say, "Oh well I don't have the capacity to deal with so-and-so pissing at my front door now, so I'll just let it be...".

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