Port Harcourt — The Health of Mother Earth Foundation. HOMEF, has expressed displeasure that the Petroleum Industry Act is not definite about ending gas flaring regime in the country.
Executive Director, HOMEF, Rev Nnimmo Bassey, said the Act creates numerous provisions for operators to continue flaring gas unchecked, as it gives power to the Commission to grant operators a permit to flare gas.
Bassey lamented that such permits could easily be abused and turned into a license for unchecked and perpetual environmental and health damage to communities (as has been done previously).
“The Act also does not state the timeframe allowed for flaring in the case of facility start up or for strategic operational reasons
“While the PIA makes the flaring of gas illegal, it nonetheless creates a series of exemptions which ensures that the same gas flare regime continues literarily unchecked.
“The Act identifies instances where gas flaring may be permitted. These include (a) in the case of an emergency; (b) pursuant to an exemption granted by the Commission; or (c) as an acceptable safety practice under established regulations.
“It goes further to clarify that the Authority or Commission may grant a permit to a Licensee or Lessee to allow the flaring or venting of natural gas for a specific period –
(a) where it is required for facility start-up; or
(b) for strategic operational reasons, including testing.
“The section however does not provide an explanation of what ‘strategic operational reasons’ are beyond testing. It also does not state the timeframe allowed for flaring in the case of facility start up or for strategic operational reasons. These provisions could be easily abused and turned into a license for unchecked and perpetual environmental and health damage to communities (as has been done previously).”
HOMEF maintained that to end gas flaring, offenders should be made to pay the full economic cost of the flared gas based on the prevalent market price of gas, as well as the related health and environmental costs.
The environmental rights group also said that the Act does not appear to consider Nigeria’s climate change pledges as contained in the nation’s Nationally Determined Contributions.
“The PIA does not place any definite flare-out date, presenting the impression that the practice will continue indefinitely to the detriment of host communities who continue to suffer the dangerous consequences.
“In our memo to the National Assembly, we had recommended the introduction of a clause which affirms the outlawing of gas flaring and requires that offenders pay the full economic cost of the flared gas based on the prevalent international market price of gas, as well as the related health and environmental costs.
“Additionally that the discretionary powers given to the Commission to determine how much is paid as penalty for gas flaring be removed, and that the regulations should clearly peg the fines for violation as stated above.
“In line with current global realities including the established relationship between gas flaring and climate change, we had recommended that the PIB places a definite date to end gas flaring, and provide a framework to review each company milestone towards achieving the flare out target; as well as establish definite ‘non fines’ sanctions for violations of milestones. Unfortunately, all these suggestions were jettisoned.”