The Nigerian Senate has identified the fact that if Nigeria must meet up with the National Gas Flare-out Target of January 2030, it must have a working legislation, equipped with commensurate penalties for gas flaring offences in the nation.
The Senate has also made it clear that Nigerians who man the Petroleum Ministry and regulatory agencies are as much culpable to gas flaring offences as the multinational oil companies themselves.
These were part of issues raised at plenary, as the Senate considered a bill titled: Gas Flaring ( Prohibition and Punishment bill) 2016 sponsored by the Chairman, Senate Committee on Gas, Senator Bassey Albert Akpan.
The bill among others seeks to address the inadequacies of the 1979 Act; bring gas flare penalty in tune with current economic realities and ensure the achievement of the National Flare out Target of January 2030.
Sen Albert Bassey in his lead debate decried dangerous environmental and energy waste practices in the country’s petroleum industry.
Akpan noted that the flaring of natural gas was one of the most dangerous environmental and energy waste practices in the country’s petroleum industry.
He said that gas flaring had adverse effect on the environment and human health.
The lawmaker added that it had resulted in economic loss, deprived the Federal Government of tax revenues and trade opportunities and deprived consumers of clean and cheaper energy source.
His words: “Available data from the NNPC has shown that Nigeria lost billions in revenue last year. The volume of gas flared is sufficient to generate 3.5 megawatts of electricity. This is not to say the quantifiable social health and environmental impacts
‘It appears that the euphoria of oil discovery and commencement of production in 1958 blinded Nigerians as there was no provision to handle gas in association with the oil.
Government neither stipulated any law nor guidance during the nascent period of our oil production history
“All efforts to stop the flaring of natural gas has not been effective and Nigerians have remained the victims of lack of Gas Flaring Prohibition Act,” he said.
According to the lawmaker ,the bill when passed into law, would help to provide a strong legal framework for effective monitoring and regulation of gas activities in line with current realities.
He stressed that the bill sought to ensure achievement of the national flare out target of January 1, 2030 in line with the United Nations Charter.
In his contribution, the Chairman, Senate Committee on Finance, Sen. John Enoh, said it was disheartening that Nigeria was still battling with stopping gas flaring and called for the passage of the bill in order to put strict measures in place to tackle the problems posed by the flaring of gas.
“We remain an amazing country especially because since 1958 up till now, we are still talking about what to do about gas flaring. So we have to put in measures to make it expensive to flare gas,” he said.
Senator Ben Murray Bruce lamented that gas flaring has continued in Nigeria because the laws against the act are toothless and obnoxious.
Senator Bruce noted that the practice thrived because Nigerians who man the ministries and regulatory agencies are unpatriotic and either allow the foreign companies flare the gas while they look the other way or allow them evade substantial punishment.
His words, ” Nobody ever pays attention to these incompetent people who should be protecting Nigerians.
“I agree we go for the foreign companies because they are very irresponsible themselves but we must deal with the issue of Nigerians who are not patriotic. We must discuss the issue of punishing these Nigerians.”