UPDATING THE LEGAL FRAMEWORK FOR THE ELIMINATION OF GAS FLARING IN NIGERIA

Thaddeus (Ted) Chukwuka EZE

Abstract


This paper examines the dynamics in the legal framework for the elimination of gas flaring in Nigeria. Gas flaring has been with Nigeria since the discovery of oil in large quantities and its subsequent exploitation for commercial purposes. The practice of gas flaring is hazardous to the environment. It has attracted international attention. in programs such as the Global Gas Flaring Reduction Initiative (GFRI) anchored by the World Bank This paper found that from the onset, the Nigerian Government adopted a moderate approach to the problem by emphasizing efforts at gas utilization rather than an outright ban on gas flaring as is the case with many parts of the civilizes world. The paper also found that this approach has encouraged the multinational oil companies doing business in Nigeria to continue with the obnoxious practice rather than device effective ways of commercializing the gas from the flare sites. The paper further reveals that despite the failure of past efforts at achieving zero gas flares in Nigeria’s oil fields, the Federal Government has intensified efforts at zero flares by 2020. This it has done by enacting the Flare Gas (Prevention of Pollution and Waste) Regulations, 2018. The Government has taken a further step by embarking on the Nigerian Gas Flare Commercialization Project (NGFCP) as a way of opening up competition in the Flare Gas utilization efforts to implement the objectives of the Regulations. The retention of the ministerial discretion by the Regulations to permit gas flaring in some cases point to the fact that there may still be some bridges to cross in the journey towards the elimination of gas flaring in Nigeria. This is notwithstanding the fact that 800 applications were received in March 2019, at the close of applications, by the Ministerial Steering Committee on the NGFCP for the management of the 176 identified flare sites.

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