Gas Flaring in the Niger Delta Essay Example
Gas Flaring in the Niger Delta Essay Example

Gas Flaring in the Niger Delta Essay Example

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  • Pages: 11 (2913 words)
  • Published: December 30, 2017
  • Type: Research Paper
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Abstract Nigeria flares 17.2 billion mm of natural gas per year In conjunction with the exploration of crude OLL In the Niger Delta. This gas flaring expends huge amounts of energy and causes environmental degradation and disease, Even though OLL has become the center of current Industrial development and economic activities, the links between oil exploration and exploitation processes and the incumbent environmental, health, and social problems in oil producing communities are not well known.

This paper examines the potential benefits of a gas flaring reduction on the local economy and environment, including the projected benefits of utilizing associated gas. Also, the carbon monoxide level of ambient air was collected at four villages, and other emissions related to flaring evaluated through related research. The results show that the reduction of gas flaring can improve h


uman health and the environment.

This paper concludes that the local livelihood in the Niger Delta can be significantly Improved by promoting a shift from flaring the associated gas to electing It for use as a gaseous fuel and for electricity generation. Although political feasibility poses a significant hurdle, economic and energy Initiatives need to be strongly Integrated with other policies that promote development. Introduction Nigeria flares 17. 2 billions m of natural gas per year in conjunction with the exploration of crude oil in the Niger Delta (SGF 2002).

This high level of gas flaring is equal to approximately one quarter of the current power consumption of the African continent (SGF 2002). This problem has been produced by a range of international IL companies which have been in operation for over four decades (Africa News Service 2003).

The economic an

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environmental ramifications of this high level of gas flaring are serious because this process is a significant waste of potential fuel which is simultaneously polluting water, air, and soil in the Niger Delta.

In this paper, I show how a reduction of gas flaring could benefit the local economy and the environment in Nigeria. As a visitor I was shocked to watch the endless burning of this gas 24 hours a day. Even though we have grown to be fairly dependent on OLL and It has come the center of current industrial development and economic activities, we rarely consider how oil exploration and exploitation processes create environmental, health, and social problems in local communities near oil producing fields (where I call "oil producing communities" in the rest of this paper) (Resource and Connelly 2003).

For this reason, I hope that this study helps us, as oil users, to be more aware of the actual costs of oil production and to more actively seek corporate accountability in oil-producing communities There are various reasons for the continuous gas flaring. From a political perspective, as Michael Watts (2001) said "In Nigeria, OLL became the basis for important forms of political manipulation," in which petrol-capital became the cause of political violence against those advocating environmental Justice or compensation for the costs of ecological degradation.

The Nigerian government has not enforced environmental regulations effectively because of the overlapping and conflicting jurisdictions of separate governmental agencies as because of non-transparent governance mechanisms (Oakland 2001 , SGF 2002). Neither the Federal Environmental Protection Agency (PAPA) nor the Department of

Petroleum Resources (EDP) has implemented interlarding policies for natural gas Nasty from oil

production, nor have they monitored the emissions to ensure compliance with 1 Since 1988, the Federal Environmental Protection Agency (PAPA) has had the authority to issue standards for water, air and land pollution and has had the authority to make regulations for oil industry. However, in some cases their regulations conflict with the Department of Petroleum Resources (EDP)'s regulations started in 1991 for oil exploration. (Mamba 1999) their own regulations (Mamba 1999).

From an economic perspective, the Nigerian government's main interest in the oil industry is to maximize its monetary profits from oil production (ESMTP 2001). Oil companies find it more economically expedient to flare the natural gas and pay the Insignificant fine than to reinsert the gas back into the oil wells. Additionally, because there is an insufficient energy market especially in rural areas (SGF 2002), oil companies do not see an economic incentive to collect the gas. From a social perspective, the oil-producing communities have experienced severe normalization and neglect (Watts 2000).

The environment and human health have frequently been secondary consideration for oil companies and the Nigerian government. However, although there may be reasons for the continuous gas flaring, there are many strong arguments suggesting that it should be stopped. Corporations' accountability to the people and environment surrounding them imply that oil companies should be required to reinsert the gas, to recover it, or to shut down any extraction facilities in Inch the gas flaring is occurring.

This paper, however, calls attention to the fact that n addition to these ethical concerns there are very real potential economic and environmental benefits of recovering the gas as an energy source. Correcting these market

failures would be a simple way to ensure that the natural gas currently flared IS used more efficiently. Nigeria currently produces 2.12 million barrels of crude oil per day, making it the twelfth largest oil producer in the world (EIA 2003).

Even though Nigeria earns $17. Billion from oil revenues annually (EIA 2003), it still remains one of the most underdeveloped and corrupt countries in the world (Gaston et al. 1999). Oil money currently provides for nearly 80 percent of government avenue, over 90 percent of foreign exchange earnings, and 90-95 percent of export earnings (EIA 2003). More than 75 percent of this oil is found in the coastal area of the Niger Delta, which is the largest oil reserve in Africa and the tenth largest in the Enroll (Mambo 1995).

According to the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, there are 1 50 oil fields and 1,481 oil wells in the Niger Delta region (Mamba 1999). Because of this massive oil exploration in the Niger Delta, the ramifications for human health, local culture, indigenous self-determination, and the environment are severe. As is the ease in most oil producing regions of less developed countries, the economic and political benefits are given significantly more weight by the government than the resulting damage to the environment and human health (Resource and Connelly 2003).

Oil exploration causes a range of environmental problems. These include: contamination of both surface and ground water by benzene, Selene, toluene, and deforestation; as well as the economic loss and environmental degradation stemming from gas flaring, which is the focus of the rest of this paper (Resource and Connelly 2003). In order to address the problems

of gas flaring, it is necessary to understand why the natural gas is being flared.

Because oil and natural gas are mixed in every oil deposit, the natural gas called "associated gas" must be removed from oil before refining (Gaston et al. 999). Gas flaring is simply the burning of this associated gas. Gas flaring is currently illegal in most countries of the world, where gas flaring may only occur in certain circumstances such as emergency shutdowns, unplanned maintenance, or disruption to the processing system (Hen 1999).

Currently 56. 6 million mm of associated gas is flared everyday in Nigeria (Egret and Lebanon 2004). Nigeria has the world's highest level of gas flaring, and it flares 16 percent of the world's total associated gas (SGF 2002).

Due to a lack of utilized Infrastructure, approximately 76 percent of associated gas is flared in Nigeria, compared 8 percent in Alberta, Canada (Africa News Service 2003, Watts 2001). Nigeria has had regulations on the books banning gas flaring for more than a quarter of a century, however they have yet to effectively implement their policies.

In 1969, the Nigerian government legislated a requirement that oil companies set up facilities o use the associated gas within five years of the commencement of oil production Nab 1999).

The government also enacted the Associated Gas Reinsertion Act in 1979, which charged oil companies to stop the gas flaring within five years (Mamba 1999). However, the companies preferred to pay the fine that the government later Imposed as a penalty for gas flaring rather than stopping the flaring. Even though the fine for gas flaring has increased from Naira O, 5 to Naira 10 (U.

S. 11 C) for every 1,000 fit of gas in 1998 (Mamba 1999, Project Underground 2003), this fine is still too low to eave an impact on these companies' policy toward gas flaring.

Moreover, the approximately $3 million per month of fines that the government receives is Just a fraction of what it could impose. The reason fines are not increased is that the Nigerian government owes a big debt to oil companies. The government cannot actually collect most of the fine for gas flaring since it has failed to redeem its own obligation (African Business 2001). In January 2003, President Bassoon moved up the official deadline for phasing out gas flaring from 2008 to the end of 2004 (EIA 2003).

However, it is difficult to determine whether the government really intends to enforce the 2004 target or whether it is only used in negotiation of new oil contracts (African easiness 2001). International organizations, governments, and the major international oil companies have now started to pay attention to this routine gas flaring.

For example, the Global Gas Flaring Reduction Initiative (SGF), led by the Enroll Bank Group in collaboration with the Government of Norway, has Just started a project to establish common guidelines and standards for gas flaring and venting on global basis.

The SGF aims to improve the legal and regulatory framework for flaring reductions (SGF 2002). This is not only because flaring is environmentally unfriendly but also because it is literally destroying valuable natural resources. Since the issue of global warming has become more high profile in the world, there has been more attention paid to gas flaring, which produces enormous amounts of propane

(Oakland 2001). In fact, the World Bank estimated that about 10 percent of global CO emission comes from flaring.

Nigerian gas flaring alone releases 35 million tons of CO and 12 million tons of CHI, which has a higher warming potential Han CO (Mamba 1999, Watts 2001). In addition to the Gags, the gas flaring also produces hazardous compounds that harm human health and the ecosystem. Not only is the gas flaring damaging the environment and human health, it is also wasting huge amounts of the country's second most valuable natural resource.

In the report of "Africa Gas Initiatives," the UNDO and the World Bank said, "If additional gas utilization projects are not implemented over the next twenty years, over half of Sub Sahara Africans current known gas reserves could be flared along the Atlantic seaboard" (ESMTP 2001).

Additionally, gas flaring in Sub Sahara Africa represents $3 billion of annual economic loss (ESMTP 2001), and the Nested energy resource through flaring in Nigeria equals about 45 percent of the energy requirements of France, the world's forth largest economy (Gaston et al. 999). Despite the common use of flares in the oil industry in Nigeria, remarkably little study of the gas flaring impacts has been conducted in the Niger Delta. Even in such an industry-intensive region as Alberta Canada, there are not many studies about the emissions of gas flaring conducted because of expense Monsoons 1999) Accordingly, I tend to analyze how flare reduction in Nigeria can be linked to poverty alleviation through the reduction of pollution, fuel for local power and industry, and other resource benefits to local communities.

With regard to environmental benefits, the reduction

of gas flaring would decrease particulate emissions and Gags. Moreover, since traditional biomass such as followed and charcoal is still used for 97. 3% of total energy in Nigeria, substituting the liquefied petroleum gas (ALP) produced by associated gas for followed and charcoal would mitigate eye and respiratory disease room cooking stoves; adverse deforestation; and heavy time burdens for collecting the wood (CE and UNDO 1999, ESMTP 2001).

The poor people in rural areas rely on the direct combustion of biomass such as wood, crop residues, and dung for activities that require heating or lighting because they lack access to electricity and modern fuels. Thus, the increase of availability of natural gas energy, currently being flared, would in turn help improve infrastructure and introduce a suitable pricing mechanism. Also, supplying modern energy service to Nigerian who still cook with rotational solid fuels and lack access to electricity would probably represent a significant improvement of living standards.

This study shows that the associated gas currently flared in Nigeria, if used efficiently and effectively, has the potential to fulfill easily and cheaply a requirement for industrialization and to conserve the environment for local people at the same time. Methods In order to analyze the potential benefits of the reduction of gas flaring on local oil-producing communities, economic and environmental studies were conducted. Economic Study The workbook retreated by SGF was employed to perform an economic analysis of using the associated gas flared from the oil field.

The workbook consists of a financial spreadsheet model capable of evaluating the economic costs and benefits of using associated gas for power production, industrial gas use and ALP production in a

15 for reducing gas flaring and using associated gas for local purposes.

The options comprise four scenarios. Scenario 1 is "Use of the associated gas for power production at the oil field and transmission of power to the nearest electricity grid. " Scenario 2 is "Scenario 1 plus extraction of ALP at the wellhead.

Scenario 3 is "Transportation of the associated gas in a new gas pipeline to a site where it can be used by a new or existing power company to power production and / or by industries. " Lastly, scenario 4 is "Scenario 3 plus extraction of ALP at the wellhead.

" Base on input data, including the amounts of the associated gas, local demand for energy and distances to markets, and financial fuel prices and economic cost of fuels, the workbook identifies Inch utilization options seem most relevant (SGF 2004). Two gas-flaring communities, Miring and Obama, were screened for small-scale utilization of associated gas.

Site selection was based on the data availability for the amount of the associated gas. The required data were obtained through each floatation, the documents of U. S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), African Gas Initiative, and OPEC, and personal observations.

Table 1 shows some of the required data. As Table 1 shows, the Obama floatation flares twice more than the Miring floatation. The Miring floatation, however, is about twice as close as the gas power grid and the power company than the Obama floatation.

Some of the required data for the workbook (1) each floatation, (2) guesstimated, 13) African Gas Initiative: Main Report (ESMTP 2001), (4) default of the Gofer's Norfolk, (5) OPEC Environment Study In the summer of 2003,

I stayed in the Niger Delta for 10 weeks, working with a Nigerian non-government organization, Our Niger Delta (NOD).

The Niger Delta is one of the largest wetlands in the world, encompassing over 70,000 km (ENDS 2004) and is located on the coast of southern Nigeria (Figure 1). The Niger Delta has four ecological zones: coastal barrier islands, mangroves, freshwater swamp forests, and lowland rainforest's (Mambo 1995).

The Niger Delta also contains enormous biodiversity, including unique and rare species. During my stay in the Niger Delta, I visited four villages in Bales state: Miring, brain, Obama, and Manama, to take carbon monoxide (CO) samples and discuss the impacts of oil exploration with local villagers.

Miring (Solo Creek Floatation) and brain (Telltale Forestation) are located approximately two kilometers from a gas flare flotation equipped with a gas scrubber which is used to remove water and air pollutants such as hydrogen sulfide (HAS) (Language 1994).

These affiliations are operated by Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited (SPED). floatation that is not equipped with a gas scrubber, owned by Nigerian Gasp Oil Company Limited (GASP). Lastly, Manama region is entirely free of the gas flaring.

While the CO level of ambient air Nas monitored for a four-hour average over five different days in Miring, Cabbaging, and Manama, I could only take a CO sample for one day in Obama (August 6, 2003) due to time and distance constraints. I measured CO outside in an attempt to avoid other CO sources such as cooking stoves and vehicles. In addition to CO emission, in order to study other emissions of gas flaring, I reviewed the Alberta Research Council (ARC) report released

in 1996. This report is the one of the most comprehensive academic papers to examine other emissions.

In heir study, the ARC conducted field measurements of products of incomplete combustion downwind of flare plumes at a low-sulfur content gas (called "sweet gas") site and another downwind from flares of a higher sulfur content gas ("sour gas") site. However, because Nigerian gas has low sulfur content, only the data of sweet gas site is examined.

Combustion Efficiency (%) 62. Conditions for the sample collection measured 5 m above a sweet gas flame (Strophes 1996) Furthermore, collecting associated gas yields human health and environmental effects as a secondary benefit by promoting a shift from direct combustion of biomass fuels in inefficient and polluting stoves to clean, efficient gaseous fuels. The study of evaluating of and control strategies for traditional and modern environmental hazards, particularly health-damaging and climate-warming air pollution from fuel use in developing countries has conducted by the United Nations

Development Programmer (UNDO) and Daniel M.Seamen and Kirk Smith who are professors at the University of California, Berkeley. Hence, I reviewed their study in order to examine how shifting the biomass fuel to the gaseous fuel by utilizing the associated gas can play a role on local environment and human health as an indirect benefit. Results In 1999, Nigeria completed its biggest gas project, the West African Gas Pipeline WAGE) as part of a gas flaring reduction scheme (EIA 2003). The $400 million, 1,033 km pipeline will transport the gas from the Niger Delta through Benign, Togo, and Shania to be used in those countries (Commerce 2002).

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