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.
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
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.