Gas flaring

The Global Gas Flaring Reduction (GGFR) initiative may have assisted Nigeria to reduce gas flaring by 10 billion cubic metres (bcm) per year in the past 11 years, thus raising hopes for eventual end to the saga, despite missing the December 21, 2012 deadline.

The International Association of Oil and Gas Producers, which made this disclosure in its latest fact sheet on operations from member countries, stated that GGFR was helping Algeria, Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Kazakhstan, Nigeria and Qatar to meet identified dates for eliminating routine gas flaring.

The House of Representatives on January 13, 2012 perfected the legislative framework pegging the deadline for gas flaring in Nigeria’s petroleum sector at December 31, 2012, imposing stiff penalties on operators that flout the new regulations.

This followed adoption of the report of its Committee on Gas Resources on a Bill for an Act to Amend the Associated Gas Re-injection Act No. 99 of 1979 Cap. A25, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria.

As at December 31, exact date for the deadline, the oil majors, including their local counterparts, still flared gas, but has been able to reduce the flaring considerably.

The fact sheet stated that the GGFR initiative aimed to support countries in their efforts to reduce gas flaring by providing advice to governments, national oil companies and potential customers on market development and gas agreements.

It disclosed that the GGFR partners have endorsed a Global Standard for a significant gas flaring reduction within 5-10 years by finding commercial uses for the associated gas through increased collaboration between countries.

The fact sheet added that GGFR-facilitated projects should reduce total global flaring by 12 billion cubic metres per year.

“When crude oil is brought to the surface, it usually rises with associated natural gas – like the carbonation in a soda siphon. Ideally, this gas is captured and used to help generate the power and mechanical drive on the production facility. Alternatively and under the right geological conditions, the gas can be re-injected into the reservoir to enhance oil production.

“Flares need to be available as a safety measure (operational flaring) similar to a pilot light on a gas heater. This is to avoid explosion by preventing air from entering the system. Flares allow a quick and controlled combustion when gas needs to be released from pipes in an emergency and for maintenance. Very small volumes of gas may be released without being burnt.

“If the natural gas flows in sufficient quantities, it can be exported and sold to local markets, channeled into an existing pipeline system, or liquefied and transported by ship to remote markets. If none of these options exist, excess gas is burnt via the flare.

“To reduce flaring, countries need to put in place the right economic framework to allow national and international oil & gas companies to make the necessary investments. To this end, the World Bank, oil-producing countries, OPEC, donor countries (including the EU as an entity) and international oil companies promote the Global Gas Flaring Reduction (GGFR) initiative. This public/private partnership was established at the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg”, it added.

The Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke, said: “The intention of government through our gas industrialisation programme and other measures put in place is to ensure that gas flare is reduced to two per cent in 2014 in order to meet international best practice.”

According to Alison-Madueke, Nigeria has already succeeded in reducing gas flaring to less than 11 per cent, compared to 30 per cent in 2010.

Alison-Madueke added that in the last 12 months, the upstream sub-sector maintained a production of 2.4mn bpd, as well as increasing gas production.


Information from The Guardian was used in this report.