09 April 2015, Lagos – Nigerian independent oil and gas firms and marginal field operators burnt most of the natural gas produced on their fields in the fourth quarter of last year, data from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation has shown.
Although International Oil Companies, including Shell, Total and Chevron still account for the bulk of flared gas in the country, they wasted less than 20 per cent of their total gas production in the period.
On the contrary, Nigerian independent firms and marginal field players flared more than 80 per cent of their total gas production.
They include the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company, which is a subsidiary of NNPC; Seplat, First Hydrocarbon, ND Western, Naconde, Amni International, Midwestern Oil and Gas, Niger Delta Petroleum and Waltersmith.
The IOCs and indigenous players burnt 44.57 billion standard cubic feet of natural gas in December 2014 out of the 221.63 billion scf produced; while 23.45 billion scf was flared in November out of the 195.58 billion scf produced.
In October, the total production of natural gas was put at 235.04 billion scf, with about 15.23 per cent flared, according to the NNPC data.
In December, total gas production from joint ventures operated by companies including, Shell, Exxon Mobil, Total, Chevron and Pan-Ocean was 174.32 million scf and about seven per cent (12.09 million scf) of this was flared; 16.56 million scf was flared in November out of 171.92 million scf produced; and 18.71 million scf was wasted out of 182.56 million scf produced in October.
The independents and marginal field operators produced 19.94 million scf in December and flared about 98 per cent as only 348,260 scf was utilised, the data showed.
In November, production from the independents slumped to 1.06 million scf as only four out of 15 firms produced, while 873,677 scf (82 per cent) was burnt. The marginal field operators wasted 927,802 scf (81 per cent) out of the 1.14 million scf produced.
The independents and marginal field operators flared about 84 per cent (11 million scf) of the total 13.14 million scf gas produced in October.
Nigeria is Africa’s top oil producer and largest holder of natural gas reserves on the continent, with about 187 trillion cubic feet of proven gas reserves and 600 Tcf of unproven gas reserves.
But low investment in gas infrastructure over the years has continued to hamper the development of the huge natural gas reserves in the country for domestic consumption, particularly for power generation.
As a result of the lack of infrastructure to capture the natural gas produced with oil, known as associated gas, a significant amount of the country’s gross natural gas production is flared.
French oil major, Total, had recently said it stopped gas flaring and started producing gas from the Ofon field in Nigeria in the fourth quarter of 2014.
The amount of gas flared in Nigeria has decreased in recent years, from 540 Bcf in 2010 to 428 Bcf in 2013, according to the Energy Information Administration, the statistical arm of the United States’ Department of Energy.
“According to Shell, one of the largest gas producers in the country, the impediments to decreasing gas flaring have been the security situation in the Niger Delta and the lack of partner funding that has slowed progress on projects to capture associated gas,” the EIA said.
It added that Shell recently reported that it was able to reduce the amount of gas it flared in 2012 because of improved security in some Niger Delta areas and stable co-funding from partners, which allowed it to install new gas-gathering facilities and repair existing ones damaged during the militant crisis of 2006 to 2009.
The EIA noted that the Nigerian government had been working to end gas flaring for several years, but the deadline to implement the policies and fine oil companies had been repeatedly postponed, with the most recent deadline being December 2012.
“In 2008, the Nigerian government developed a Gas Master Plan that promoted investment in pipeline infrastructure and new gas-fired power plants to help reduce gas flaring and provide more gas to fuel much-needed electricity generation. However, progress is still limited because security risks in the Niger Delta have made it difficult for the IOCs to construct infrastructure that would support gas monetisation,” it said.