The Nigerian National Assembly has been asked to hasten the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB).

The call was part of the resolutions reached at the end of a webinar training on “Impact of Gas Flare on Oil Producing Communities and Discrepancies in Gas Flare Data –  a  Clarion Call to Action”, which was organized by African Initiative for Transparency and Responsible Leadership (AfriTAL).

The forum said the quick passage of the PIB would create strong, autonomous, well-funded and well-staffed regulatory agencies for the industry as well as give legal teeth to the Host Community and Fiscal regimes that would incentivize domestication of gas.

Experts who spoke during the webinar stated that the only way Nigeria can reinvent herself after COVID 19, reduce unemployment situation in the country and make her oil and gas industry attractive to investors, is not by borrowing, but by plugging all the hemorrhaging points in her economy.

Engineer Solomon Adeleye, who spoke on “Nigerian Gas Flare Commercialization Strategy” noted that instead of creating value in the gas chain, the nation flares most of her gas for several reasons.

He added that Nigeria has about 179 flare sites with very disastrous negative impacts on our socio-economic growth, environmental and human impacts on the oil producing communities of the Niger Delta and employment generation opportunities.

He also said that post-COVID-19, the country must change the narratives, so that the teeming youths can be employed and that the Niger Delta can benefit from clean environment, which they rightly deserve and at the end earn much needed revenue for the country.

“The first area is to ensure that we focus on creating additional mid-chain value addition industries through the several derivatives that can be obtained from processing natural gas.

“These are key ingredients in the manufacturing of goods. For instance, ammonia is used in the production of fertilizer, plastics and carpets, methanol is used in producing paint, photography film, disinfectants, dyes, automobile parts and preservatives, ethylene is used for the production of paint, synthetic motor oils and lubricants, propylene is used for the production of phones, auto parts, Plexiglas, coatings, cosmetics, ropes, PVC  plastics and bathtubs etc.

“Unfortunately, when we ship our gas out for export earnings, we lose all these derivatives, ship the employments that would have been generated within the chain and ultimately the importers become the sole beneficiaries in all fronts. So, imagine how many Nigerians would have been employed if the country had twenty fertilizer plants and six more petrochemical plants like Indorama.

“In real sense, the typical multiplier job creation in a fertilizer plant is humongous. These areas include trading, manufacturing, transportation, mining and agriculture. If properly harnessed, it would create not less than 15, 645 direct jobs and 1,251,551 indirect jobs. This is outside job creation in warehousing, wholesaling, retailing and the community ancillary jobs for communities around the plants,” he added.

On his part, Mr. Jesse Martins Manufor mentioned that Nigeria tends to overlook the menace of gas flaring, its negative impact on the oil producing communities, the divergence of gas volumes’ data between oil and gas operators, and the Gas Flare Tracker (GFT), which is an environmental monitoring tool.

He showed data revealing the disparities between the recorded gas flare volumes, by oil and gas operators as recorded by government agencies saddled with the monitoring of gas flared in the industry and the GFT.

In his reactions to the presentations, Mr Charles Majomi (energy consultant) noted that the take-away from the presentations was that Nigeria does not have the capacity to meter volume of gas flared in the country neither does the country know the amount of gas flared, which makes it impossible to realistically impose fines on companies for flaring gas.

He also stated that “the discrepancies of the data between GFT and the volumes declared by the oil and gas companies over a period of time. In addition, he further mentioned that whilst there seems to be an accurate alignment between the gas reported to be flared before 2018 by GFT and the NNPC, there is a significant difference between the figures from 2018.”

Some other resolutions reached at the webinar include the call for the DPR to be empowered, on behalf of the government, to install its own independent automated metering systems.

It was stated that this would allow for the government, to properly assess the claims made by its operating partners with respect to volumes of gas flare and penalties owed.

Participants also said that Nigeria should establish an independent protocol for auditing, measuring and reporting gas flares in the country and the National Assembly and the agencies of government involved in over-sighting the oil gas industry, should ensure that volumes of gas flared, attract the appropriate penalties and payment made as at when due.

Other resolutions include: “To serve as a disincentive for gas flaring, the FGN should Increase the Gas flare penalty, for associated gas derived from fields producing greater than 10,000 barrels per day of crude oil; and USD1.00 from fields producing less than 10,000 barrels per day.

“That a percentage of the proceeds from the gas flare penalty, be ring-fenced to support the communities impacted by the flares.

“Urgently pass the Host Community Bill, which would help restore confidence in the oil and gas producing communities and Nigeria should incentivize local gas investors, to enable them invest in domestic Gas Based Industrialization programmes, which have the potential to alleviate the current and future unemployment burden of the rapidly expanding population.

“Pursue the Nigeria Gas Flare Commercialization Program (NGFCP), which was initiated in Nigeria in 2016, as part of Federal Government’s deliberate policy, to bring gas flaring in the Niger Delta to a logical conclusion.

“Commit to a three-year gas flare out plan, which shall remain sacrosanct, to free the Niger Delta region from the hazards of environmental pollution occasioned by gas flaring.”

Thirty six (36) participants, drawn from Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) and the Media attended the online engagement. Some of the CSOs that participated in the online event were: GASIN, Environmental Rights Action (ERA), Peace Point Development Foundation (PPDF), Youths and Environmental Advocacy Centre (YEAC), Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), Policy Alert (Grassroots People Empowerment Foundation), HEDA Resource Centre, Global Initiative for Citizens Advocacy and Representation etc.