by Tolu Orekoya
The much ballyhooed and long-delayed Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), which is meant to radically restructure and reform the oil industry, includes a clause that could bring an end to gas flaring in the country.
Gas flaring is seen as colossal waste of a valuable natural resource, with Nigeria flaring the equivalent of one-third of the United Kingdom’s annual consumption of gas, according to Reuters.
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Africa’s top oil producer has long pledged but failed to end flaring, and although officials say it has fallen in the past decade, Nigeria remains the world’s second biggest burner of gas associated with crude oil production after Russia. Many see the new target date to end flaring as unrealistic.
“Natural gas shall not be flared or vented after 31st December, 2012, in any oil and gas production operation, block or field, onshore or offshore, or gas facility,” except under exceptional and temporary circumstances, says a new draft of the long-awaited Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB).
“Any licensee who flares or vents gas without the permission of the Minister in (special) circumstances … shall be liable to pay a fine which shall not be less than the value of gas.”
There is plenty of doubt whether or not the December 31 deadline can be met. The bill, which “includes plans to partly privatise and list the state oil firm, tax oil company profits at 20 percent for deep offshore and 50 percent for shallow or onshore, and give the oil minister supervisory powers over all institutions in the industry,” according to Reuters may not gain much traction in the Senate where powerful oil interests, may lobby hard to deflect the bill and maintain the status quo.