BudgIT, a civic organization that applies technology to intersect citizen engagement with institutional improvement, to facilitate societal change, today reported that Nigeria loses N2.5 billion yearly to gas flaring.

The organization advised the Federal Government to deal with the menace frontally in view of its negative implications for the nation’s environment, people’s health and revenue potential.

Noting that the Nigerian government has recorded some progress in the fight against routine gas flaring over the last 20 years, BudgIT stated in the latest analysis by its Extractives team that the volume of gas produced increased by 91.13% while the volume of gas flared reduced by only 38.06% between 2001 and 2016.

The organisation’s Communication Lead, Abiola Afolabi, in a statement issued on the research findings indicated that this implied that oil companies invested more money in gas production activities and were less concerned about sufficiently investing in technologies and infrastructure to control gas flaring and that Nigeria had a potential for the consumption of un-flared gas.

To deal with the menace, BudgIT urged all stakeholders to commit towards putting in place the supply-framework, infrastructure and market systems necessary for un-flared gas to reach its end users needs.

In addition, it also urged the Federal Government to explore existing technologies and strategies to reduce the amount of gas flared into the atmosphere, though, some irresponsible oil companies are unwilling to make the investment necessary to deploy the right technologies and infrastructure in Nigeria.

Similarly, it also canvassed the need for immediate review of the guiding legal framework for deterring gas flaring to prevent companies from taking advantage of inherent loopholes.

The organisation quoted the Finance Minister, Kemi Adeosun, on the current legal framework as saying that “in current documents that cover the gas flaring penalty, the penalty was drafted as a charge. A charge is tax deductible; so when international oil companies flare the gas, they pay the charge on which they get tax relief”.

According to BudgIT, its team visited communities in the Niger Delta in April 2017 and observed several cases of gas flare near residential neighbourhoods, specifically Polaku and Ogu communities in Bayelsa and Rivers States respectively.

BudgIT’s Lead Partner, Oluseun Onigbinde, called on the “Federal Government to muster the political will necessary to execute Nigeria’s gas master plan and to enforce regulations aimed at tangibly achieving Zero Routine Gas Flaring.

“Also, proceeds from gas flare penalties can be channelled towards funding health-related research in the Niger Delta region, to protect the residents and improve their living conditions”, Onigbinde added.

The organization pointed out that the effects of gas flaring were not limited to deformity in children, lung damage, pneumonia, asthma, bronchitis, blood disorders and a host of other fatal health conditions.