Insecurity, inadequate funding and lack of commitment from joint venture (JV) partners stalling the plan to end gas flaring in Nigeria, Shell Petroleum Development Company Limited (SPDC) has said.

The firm in its latest journal, Shell in Nigeria, stated that since 2000, it has worked with the Federal Government to end the flaring of associated gas but that security and funding, among others, have been hindering that goal. To acheive this goal, the problems must be addressed, it added.

Shell said: “Further progress in ending continuous gas flaring will be heavily dependent on the security situation. Sustained commitment from all JV partners is also crucial. Funding challenges have resulted in delays to tow major associated gas gathering projects that were expected to deliver an additional 35 per cent reduction in flared gas by 2014-15.”

It said in many oil fields, gas is produced with crude oil when it is brought to the surface. It recalled that  SPDC’s first production in the 1950s and 1960s, had little demand or market for associated gas. Consequently, the majority of it was burned off – a process called flaring. But in recent years, demand for gas in Nigeria and other countries has grown while the technology to harness, liquefy and export gas has come of age.

It  however, said since 2000, all new Shell JV facilities have been designed to include no continuous flaring of associated gas. It noted that in parallel, a multi-year programme was implemented to install equipment for capturing associated gas from older facilities. As a result, flaring volume from its JV facilities was reduced by 75 per cent between 2002 and 2013 and flaring intensity by about 60 per cent over the same period, but due to increase in production last year, volume and intensity of flared gas increased, it stated.

“Increased levels of oil production in 2014, combined with delays to new projects coming on stream, meant that volumes of flared gas increased by 12 per cent over the year and flaring intensity by nine per cent. The increased frequency of pipeline sabotage over the last two years has resulted in numerous unplanned production shutdowns. These in turn have impacted the performance of gas processing systems, which operate more efficiently with uninterrupted production, and has constrained our progress on reducing flaring intensity,” it added.

Shell said despite the challenges, the overall trend in flares reduction is positive and it continues to invest in major gas gathering projects that will drive further reduction.

The company noted that it monitored ambient air quality levels around its flare sites since 1998 and regularly reports the results to government authorities, as required by Nigerian regulation.

“SPDC monitoring data shows that air quality around our flare sites complies with these standards barring occasional operational issues (such as when gas needs to be flared for safety reasons). These standards are equivalent to international air quality standards followed in the European Union, United States and those set by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

“SPDC recognises the importance of addressing local communities’ perceptions and concerns about flaring, in addition to complying with regulations. For this reason, consultation with community and civil society representatives is an integral part of the environmental impact assessments (EIAs) conducted for all major projects,” it added.

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