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9th Senate Commends Senator Albert For Sponsoring End Of Gas Flaring Bill

…Calls For Accelerated Passage, As Bill Scales Through Second Reading


A bill to finally end gas flaring in Nigeria sponsored by Senator Bassey Albert Akpan, representing Akwa lbom North East Senatorial District, has passed second reading in the Senate.

The bill which will exert punishment against defaulters entered the second reading on Thursday, February 27, 2020, amidst calls for accelerated hearing.

The bill though passed by the 8th Senate in 2018, was however not concurred by the 8th House of Representatives due to time constraints, as the 8th National Assembly session came to an end soon after the passage of the bill by the Senate but before the transmission of the bill to the House of Representatives for deliberations and concurrence.

The bill was first read in the 9th Senate on November 19, 2019, and its speedy passage will culminate in a rapid infrastructural development of the oil and gas sector and enhance revenue to government and its related impact on the improvement of the lives of our people in the Niger Delta both socially and environmentally.

Leading the debate on the bill, the sponsor, Senator Bassey Albert Akpan popularly called OBA, who is the chairman, Senate Committee on Petroleum Resources, Upstream, said that flaring of natural gas produced in association with crude oil is one of the most dangerous environmental and energy waste practices in the Nigerian petroleum industry.

Gas flaring, he explained, affects the environment and human health, resulting in economic loss; deprives the government of associated tax revenues and trade opportunities; and deprives consumers of a clean and cheaper energy source and environment.

Senator Akpan disclosed that available data from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has shown that in 2018, Nigeria lost over N217bn in revenue as oil and gas companies flared a total of 244.84 billion standard cubic feet (scf) of natural gas within the same period.

RELATED: Group Petitions IOCs Over Gas Flaring, Oil Spillage in A’Ibom

With the average price of natural gas put at $2.90 per 1,000 scf as of February 16, 2017, the 244.84 billion scf flared translate to a loss of $710m or N217bn (using the official exchange rate of N305.25/dollar).

He lamented that the current gas flare penalty of N10 per 1,000 standard cubic feet (scf) is too low and not in line with current economic realities and encourages continuous gas flaring by operators with its attendant negative effect on our environment.

According to him, the bill said seeks to increase the gas flaring penalty to an appropriate and commensurate level sufficient de-incentivise the practice of gas flaring while introducing other market measures to encourage efficient gas utilisation.

Rising in support of the bill, Senator Betty Apiafi from Rivers State said there is no country in the world where gas is being flared, stating the need to re-inject gas to generate electricity.

While calling for a definite date to end gas flaring, she argued that no amount of money paid as penalty can compensate for the environmental degradation in Niger Delta resulting from gas flaring.

Also, Senator Sandy Ojang Onor from Cross River State commended Senator Akpan for sponsoring the bill which he said did not “over-dramatise the issue” because the importance of the bill speaks for itself. According to him, the damage done to the environment is unimaginable. “As a matter of urgency, gas flaring should be stopped,” Senator Onor said.

Also speaking on the bill, Senator Amosun Ibikunle equally commended Senator Albert for sponsoring the bill, regretting the health hazard caused by gas flaring.

According to him, every day gas is flared, the people inhale contaminated air and newborn babies are born with all kinds of diseases.

“All hands must be on deck to stop gas flaring,” he said, imploring senators to support the bill to be read the second time.

In his contribution, Senator Barau Jibrin from Kano State averred that gas flaring is bad for the environment and creates health problems for the people of the South South Region. When passed, he said the bill will provide heavy penalties for defaulting oil companies as well as bring enormous economic benefits to the country when gas will be re-injected and utilised.

After the dabate, senators overwhelmingly supported the bill to be passed the second time.

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