From MODESTUS CHUKWULAKA, Abuja
The Senate on Thursday passed the gas flaring bill that bars oil companies operating in the country from flaring gas after December 31 2010. The Gas Flaring (Prohibition and Punishment) Bill 2009, scaled through third reading yesterday on the floor of the Senate at the conclusion of consideration of the 18 clauses of the bill.
Senator Osita Izunaso who sponsored the bill had said the focus was on stopping environmental hazards posed by gas flaring, reducing health hazards and minimizing economic wastage. He said Nigeria was losing an estimated N2.5 billion annually from gas flaring.
"Gas flaring has adverse effect on the health of our people. Today, it is estimated that Nigeria flares up 2.5 billion cubic feet, and the effect of this gas flaring can best be imagined than experienced. Our environment is increasingly becoming a time bomb due to gas flaring," Izunaso said.
He spoke on the need to curb the menace of gas flaring, and said lack of implementation of the various deadlines fixed by government for companies to stop the flaring of gas had made the Senate to initiate the gas flaring bill that will outlaw gas flaring by December 31, 2008.
He also added that the bill would stipulate stiffer penalties for defaulters that include a shut down order to be given by the Minister of Energy (Petroleum) as against the former fine of $4 per cubic feet of gas flared.
Section 1 of the bill as passed reads, “Natural gas shall not be flared in any oil and gas production, operation, block or field onshore or off shore or gas facility (processing treatment plant etc) which shall commence operations after the commencement of this Act.
While section 2 reads, “No company engaged in the production of oil and gas shall after December 2010, flare natural gas produced whether in association with oil or not.”
The bill further stipulates strict adherence to gas laws by requiring operators in the oil sector to categorize all the flared gas resources, such as daily quantity flared, reserve, location and composition within 90 days.
It also requires the companies to submit data along with gas utilization plans to the Minister, for the gas they intend to utilize prior to the December 2010 flare-out deadline for his approval.
Sub-section 3b reads, “The Minister shall approve the same within 60 days of receipt of the said plan and shall post all approved plans, all data of planned natural gas resources and all data of unplanned natural gas resources.