BusinessDay

Flared gas in 7 months equals Nigeria’s power capacity

Within the past eight months, Africa’s largest economy has flared the equivalent of its total electricity generation capacity, as its inability to derive maximum value from abundant gas reserves keeps millions in darkness.

Data obtained from the Nigeria Gas Flare Tracker (GFT), a satellite-based technology, created by the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA), showed that this year, the country has flared about 134.5 billion standard cubic feet of gas, equivalent to 13,500 megawatts of electricity.

This volume of flared gas is equivalent to the total estimated value of Nigeria’s electricity generation capacity at 13,000MW, according to data from the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC).

But much of this capacity is constrained as a result of lack of gas to thermal plants. The average generation in the first three months of 2021 was around 5,000MW, according to NERC figures.

This volume of flared gas has the potential to generate 13,500 megawatt-hours of power, and when converted to monetary value, it could have yielded the nation $473.8 million in revenue.

Some energy experts say that the 13,500MWh forgone could cover 35 percent of the minimum electricity required to achieve some level of stability in the country’s power supply given the required minimum for power supply stability in Nigeria at 10,500MWh.

Oreoluwa Owolabi, corporate intelligence lead at GAS360, said investment in infrastructure to distribute gas across the country would enhance electricity generation.

“We need to invest in infrastructure to distribute the gas to where it would be commercially viable and it requires a government-led effort, and the government has already taken some steps towards stopping flaring by 2030,” he said.

Though volumes of flared gas have dropped significantly in the past decade, analysts are still saying more still needs to be done and they are calling for stiffer fines on oil and gas companies to force them to further lower the volumes of flared gas.

Read also: Nigeria’s gas flares lowest since 2012 as use increases

“The amount of money companies pay for gas flaring by the ministry of environment is less than the amount they will use to capture the gas,” said Okoka Darlington, an energy expert. “If the penalty for flaring gas is higher, oil-producing companies will find a way to convert the gas to electricity.”

Penalties payable for gas flared in the period, according to the GFT, stand at $270.7 million.

On the other hand, some experts suggest good roads, secured rail tracks, and well-connected waterways for adopting a virtual pipeline system.

“A virtual pipeline can be ramped up to meet Nigeria’s energy crisis in record time using existing infrastructure,” says George Frambo, a renewable energy expert.

Oyinkepreye Orodu, head of department, Petroleum Engineering at Covenant University, said for short distances, the virtual pipeline is profitable.

“The best solution seems to be a hybrid of virtual pipeline and physical pipeline to maximise and sustain delivery to remote areas requiring low to moderate gas capacity for power generation.

Okoka Darlington, an energy expert, said it should be compulsory for companies that flare gas to pay a lot of tax for polluting the environment.

He said: “The amount of money companies pay for gas flaring by the ministry of environment is less than the amount they will use to capture the gas.

“If the penalty for flaring gas is higher, oil producing companies will find a way to convert the gas to electricity.”

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