How Nigeria lost N439bn to gas flared by oil companies in 2020

DATA obtained from Nigeria’s Gas Flare Tracker have revealed that Nigeria lost an estimated N439 billion to gas flared by international oil companies (IOCs) and local stakeholders.

Gas Flare Tracker, an environmental monitoring tool that tracks gas flares in the country, was one of two online platforms launched by the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) in 2019 to monitor oil spills and track gas flares in the Niger Delta region.

A breakdown of the data on the total gas flared in the country showed that 452.5 million standard cubic feet (SCF) of natural gas were flared both onshore and offshore between January and December 2020.

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Using the price of natural gas at $2.56 per thousand SCF as at Friday, The ICIR compared the price of gas against the 452.5 million SCF flared gas, and this translated to an estimated loss of $1.158 billion or N439 billion using the official Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) exchange rate of N379 to a dollar.

The offshore flare sites referring to gas flared on water accounted for 63.3 percent of the flared gases with 286.5 million SCF while 165.7 million SCF of gases were flared onshore.

Director-general of the Budget Office Ben Akabueze had, in a recent interview, said that gas flaring penalties would be tightened in a bid to forestall future losses of revenue.

This prompted a revised payment regime that resulted in an increase in collected revenue from $120 million in 2019 to $270 million in 2020.

The gas flaring fine for companies producing 10,000 barrels of oil per day or more is now set at $2 per 1,000 cubic feet of gas, while the fine for companies producing less than 10,000 barrels a day is $0.5 per 1,000 cubic feet

Over the past five years, the country has lost close to $1 billion in revenue annually due to flaring, increasing environmental pollution in the Niger Delta region.

From 2014 to 2018, Nigeria lost N301 billion, N243 billion, N229 billion, N227 billion and N233 billion respectively from flared gases. Nigeria’s Gas FlareTrackeralso revealed that there were over 100 active flare sites in eight states where gas was currently being flared.

According to the data, five international oil companies involved in flaring the bulk of the gases were Chevron, ExxonMobil, Royal Dutch Shell, Total and Eni.



    Nigeria is one of the top 10 gas-flaring countries in the world, having flared some 282 million SCF of gas in 2018, according to accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC).

    The dataset also revealed that carbon dioxide emissions from the flare sites reached 21.6 million tonnes as Nigeria hoped to meet its pledge to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent in 2030.

    Nigeria Gas Flare Commercialisation Programme (NGFCP) was approved in 2016, and the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) held rounds for companies to bid for the opportunity to commercialise 96 of 198 flare points in February 2020.

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    Although DPR approved 200 bidders in February 2020 it said in June, when the sites should have been awarded, that the process was delayed by six weeks due to coronavirus-related restrictions.

    Amos Abba is a journalist with the International Center for Investigative Reporting, ICIR, who believes that courageous investigative reporting is the key to social justice and accountability in the society.

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