Hot on the heels of the launch of the Gas Flare Tracker in Abuja in November, the Nigerian Department for Petroleum Resources decides to drop all fines for gas flaring in Nigeria. How, might we ask, is this supposed to act as an incentive to stop gas flaring, as the DPR claims it will?
“In a dramatic change of outlook aimed at encouraging gas commercialisation by indigenous oil companies, the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) has reversed its decision to sanction oil and gas companies still involved in gas flaring.” (businessdayonline.com)
How is ending gas flare fines an incentive for investment in gas-to-power? The timing of this announcement came just days after the launch of the Gas Flare Tracker on 27 November.
Is the reason the DPR has dropped these fines for gas flaring because it exposes the inadequacies of the DPR, the Nigerian National Petroleum Company and other oil companies? The gas flare tracker system has certianly made this clear to everyone.
Some are also asking what gives the DPR sole jurisdiction over gas flaring when there are so many environmental and human health issues associated with it? Even if they refuse to fine for this wasteful and damaging practice, does that mean that the Environment Ministry or the Health Ministry or the Power Ministry can’t impose it’s own fines for environmental damage, Co2 release, poor health of communities, and wasting useful gas when Nigeria needs it so much?
Fines were never really imposed anyway, so in some ways this is just a way of taking the heat off those culpable parties and it brings a reality check to the situation.
At least no-one can be fooled now – fines are no longer even claimed to be collected for gas flaring in Nigeria. How this can be justified when Nigeria so desperately wants and needs to incentivise gas to power is anyones guess, and is a question rightly being asked by sensible policy and decion-makers both in Nigeria and on the international stage.