When at last, the
Federal Government set the current deadline for the stoppage of gas flaring by oil exploration and development companies in the country, most Nigerians heaved a sigh of relief that the disturbing issue of gas flaring would soon be a thing of the past, but surprisingly, many years after the Federal Government’s deadline, gas flames still dot oil-producing areas of the Niger Delta.
The Acting Director of Pollution Studies (IPS) of the Rivers State University of Science and Technology, Port Harcourt, Dr. Tubonimi Joseph Ideriah, identified some factors as being responsible for the deadlines not being adhered to.
He said, “There are many factors that contribute to why it is so. One, the operators find it difficult because when you stop the flaring, where do you channel the gas to? That arrangement or provision has not been made or put in place for them to divert the gas to such areas.”
“Again, like every other area in our system where laws are made and people flout the laws as good enforcement is lacking to follow up defaulters of these laws,” he said, noting that the laws are made but that people go behind to receive gratifications, they mellow down and allow unacceptable practices to continue unabated.
Dr. Ideriah expressed the belief that if properly followed up, the operators could definitely look for alternative ways of channeling the gas being flared such that it could be utilized.
The IPS director, who is an expert in Environmental Analytical Chemistry said that though he could not give the value of the nation’s wealth being wasted through gas flare figure-wise but that the nation is losing so much.
He advised that the new power companies that bought over Power Holding Companies of Nigeria (PHCN) could benefit if the gas being flared is channeled to them to solve the problem of gas shortage which they often complain about.
The expert regretted that apart from the huge wealth being wasted in flaring the gas, the environment is being polluted by the activities of unpatriotic Nigerians who sabotage the nation by vandalizing gas pipelines because of survival or agitations.
He advised that sabotaging the effort of government through vandalism of gas pipes should stop and Nigerians should be patriotic while to the agitators, the environmentalist advised them to channel their request to the appropriate quarters and give sometime for the government to attend to such requests. “But when you go the other way round to sabotage, you create problems for the community on behalf of whom may be you think you are fighting for because the environmental effects for such activities could be disastrous as the pollutants emitted into the air may linger for decades and children yet unborn could come to meet them.
The Niger Delta region, he said, is comparatively polluted basically because of the oil exploration and exploitation activities heavily going on in the area as there is no way such activities could be carried on in the area without the pollution associated with such economic activities.
“Since the advent of these oil companies in the Niger Delta, we began to see serious changes in the environment. For instance, houses that are in communities where you have oil exploration activities taking place, farmers and fishermen who managed to buy a bundle of zinc to build house, hoping that the house could be for life, but we have started experiencing fast decay of roofing sheets in most communities especially the riverine area”.
“The gases are mixed with the air that we breathe, so you can see that the air we breathe is polluted, the water we use from the River that we fish as Niger Deltans whose major occupation is fishing as we depend on it and once the river is polluted, whatever we get from the River is contaminated and once you take a contaminated seafood, definitely it gets to the food chain,” he explained.
Ideriah urged the Federal Government through the National Assembly to not only put in place necessary laws but to effectively implement such laws to the latter.
“It is a thing of development and therefore no well-meaning person will contest that these oil activities should stop,” he said but emphasised the need for adoption of international best practices.
These international best practices should be put in practice here also. What is obtained to make other developed places who are also oil exploiting and exploration countries live environmentally clean life should also be applied here,” he advised and wondered why a particular law could effectively work in such countries and not work here where they are operating similar activity.
“If a law is put in place, that law should also be implemented to the latter. There should be no question of short cuts because there are certain things you can’t caught corners without it telling on the system”, he continued.
Noting that we have some good laws because some of them were adopted from some countries that have similar operations going on there and remarked that inefficiency in their implementations make them look as if they were different laws.
The IPS director accepted that quick passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) is desirable for the nation and urged the National Assembly to pass the bill without further delay.
“There could be definitely a lot of proposals that were being made that would sanitise the sector, but we don’t know how effective these proposals that have been made could be implemented. The first stage is for the bill to be passed because without passing it you cannot get to the stage of how effective the implementation would be”, he stated, stressing that whether they were playing politics with it would be know later.
The National Assembly, he said has committees to monitor its implementations but expressed hope that it would contain proposals geared towards sanitizing the industry.
Commenting on the institute, the Acting Director said, “IPS as the pioneer Institute for Environmental Studies in Nigeria, has done so much towards raising the standard and quality of environmental research in the region since its inception in 1982.
“The institute since its inception in 1982 has been living up to expectations especially in the Niger Delta. For example, the document that is being used in the whole of Nigeria by the Federal Ministry of Environment. In 1991, the institute was part of the team that worked to put those standards that guide operations”, he said.
Some of the major goals of IPS, he said, are to raise the standard and quality of environmental research in the region and to ensure utilization of such research findings in sustainable environmental management and development.
According to him, IPS has achieved those goals through the delivery of world class environmental research studies and reports and cited instances with Environmental Baseline Studies for Establishments of Control Criteria and Standards against Petroleum related Pollution in Nigeria (RPI) report of 1985 and the Niger Delta Environmental Survey (NDES) report of 2000.
He said while RPI covers all spectrum of the environment, Air, Aquatic and Terrestrial, NDES is a regional survey covering the nine states of the Niger Delta and noted that both reports were world class by every standard and were widely referenced document.
He, however, regretted that inspite of the fact that it was the foremost in Nigeria some of the companies and establishments that were beneficiaries of our studies have changed their policies to what you could describe as lowest bidder kind of thing so that the lowest bidder is given the study job,” he said, remarking that before it was not like that as it was based on recognition and capability.
This Tiny Country Could Become Europe’s Newest Oil Producer
It is rather rare to see enthusiasm for completely new exploration projects in Europe. The overwhelming majority of OECD countries are either in terminal decline or are looking into ways how to ban exploration altogether. The less-appraised parts of Eastern Europe might still have some potential yet in the absence of oil majors such endeavors risk remaining a lifelong pipe dream. Still, the appearance of a new European frontier can rekindle upstream hopes (even if for a short period of time). Europe’s latest addition to the list of nations willing to tap into their prospective hydrocarbon resources is located in the southeast of the Old Continent, in Montenegro. The small ex-Yugoslav republic with just slightly more than 600 000 inhabitants has witnessed its first offshore well spudded on March 25, 2021. The 4118-5-1 wildcat was drilled in 100 meters of water to a total depth of 6525 meters, some 25km from the Montenegrin shore.
The first offshore Montenegrin well was spudded by the ENI-NOVATEK tandem, with the Italian major taking on the reins of operatorship. Given the geographic proximity, ENI’s interest in offshore Montenegro is quite understandable and was to be expected. In case of any discovery, ENI has the convenient option of accommodating prospective production within its system, the Italian shore is only 500km from the wildcat’s location. The first well is targeting an oil reservoir at depths of 6.5km, implying that the Italian major’s 120kbpd Taranto Refinery might be a safe backstop for any potential crude produced. Along with Total, ENI has been one of the most active drillers in the Mediterranean, marking suchsupergiant discoveries as the Egyptian Zohr or the Cypriot Calypso. Across the Adriatic from Montenegro, ENI has been developing the Aquila field offshore Brindisi,producing medium density crude of some 36° API.
The case for NOVATEK’s participation in an offshore project is much more peculiar, considering that the Russian gas producer has no assets in the Adriatic.Moreover, NOVATEK is on the US’ Sectoral Sanctions Identifications (SSI) List, meaning that equity investments and financing matters are substantially encumbered. Luckily for the Russian firm, offshore Montenegro does not fall under any of the three sanctioned areas, Russian deepwater, Arctic offshore, and shale. Domestically, NOVATEK is heavily focused on gas production on the Gydan peninsula and in the surrounding area, compelling it to seek new niches it can fill, new frontiers that could serve as bases for future growth. In a sense, NOVATEK needs to overgrow its LNG specialization and gain market-relevant competence in other segments, too.
NOVATEK’s first step into the foreign offshore segment took place in Lebanon where it landed two offshore blocks in a consortium with Total and ENI in 2018. In both cases NOVATEK did not lay claims to operatorship, focusing on building up key relationships with Europe’s leading drillers. It seems very likely that it is from the Lebanese joint experience that the Montenegrin drilling ambition branched out into a separate work track. Concurrently, although Montenegro is one of the hottest candidates for EU accession, Podgorica remains beyond the bounds of the European Union. For NOVATEK this is a great boon, as sanctions risk can be negotiated directly with the relevant national authorities, i.e. no involvement of Brussels is required.
Technically,the Montenegrin offshore area has already seen exploration drilling, though that was back in the SFRY (Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia) times, in 1980. Although Yugoslavia was a socialist country with all its peculiarities, it was the US major Chevron that was the operator of drilling operations. The Jadran Juzni (Southern Adria) prospect turned out to wield signs of oil and gas systems which, however, were deemed non-commercial,effectively closing Chevron’s offshore endeavors in Yugoslavia. It needs to be pointed out that the current wildcat is farther off the Montenegrin coast the Jadran Juzni well was only 3km from shore. To carry out the drilling, the ENI-NOVATEK tandem contracted the Topaz Driller, a Panama-flagged jack-up drilling rig. The contract was clinched in July 2020, for drilling operations starting in Q1 2021 and taking up to 180 days.
Up to now the work progress of ENI-NOVATEK seems fairly solid. In late 2018 their contractor has carried out a comprehensive 3D seismic survey on the 4118-5 Block, then the summer of 2019 witnessed a string of hydrophysical and geophysical surveys on the prospects. Having completed this, it was assumed that the spudding of the first well would take place in 2020, however, the coronavirus-triggered chaos upended all plans and effectively delayed the wildcat into 2021. Most probably the Italo-Russian joint venture will drill 2 wildcats. Even if the first well turns out to be completely dry or non-commercial, the second well (expected to be spudded in May-June 2021) is targeting gas plays at lower depths, i.e. the first well’s fiasco does not automatically foreshadow the failure of the second well.
According to media reports, it will take ENI 4-5 months to finalize the drilling of the wildcat and assess the results. Nevertheless, Montenegro’s offshore zone might more activity coming up in the upcoming months. The Greek Energean holds 2 license blocks (4219-26 and 4218-30) and is expected to take a decision on whether it intends to proceed with drilling exploratory wells in its acreage. The data to assess the blocks’ resource bounty is already there, Energean carried out 3D seismic surveying on both blocks in 2019 already. The spark of interest towards its off shore zone might compel the Montenegrin authorities to expedite a 2nd offshore bidding round which would presumably cover the 7 remaining unallotted blocks. There is very little probability that Podgorica will be trying to auction off onshore blocks,especially considering their history of dry wells.
Katona is a contributor.
By: Viktor Katona
‘NCDMB’ll Not Invest In Businesses With Competitive Private Players’
The Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB), has said that it only partners with strategic policies and projects that are promoted by the Federal Government and would not invest in oil and gas businesses that have competitive private players.
The Executive Secretary of NCDMB, Engr. Simbi Kesiye Wabote, made the clarification recently when he hosted members of the Women in Energy Oil and Gas (WEOG) Nigeria, led by their President, Dr. Oladunni Owo at the Board’s liaison office in Abuja.
He clarified that the Board would not invest in competitive business areas because such investments would compromise its morale position as a regulatory agency.
“Our role is to act as a catalyst of strategic government policies and programmes and we exit once those businesses become successful,” he added.
He also stated that NCDMB is a regulatory agency and not an interventionist organisation and would not get involved in programmes outside its mandate.
According to him, in line with the Board’s vision to serve as a catalyst for the industrialisation of the Nigerian oil and gas industry and its linkage sectors, the NCDMB has partnered with investors in modular refineries, manufacturing of LPG cylinders, LPG Depots, gas processing facilities, lube oil production plant, and a methanol plant using gas as feed stock.
Speaking further, Wabote listed some policies introduced by the Board to support women in the oil and gas industry to include the inauguration of the Diversity Sectorial Working Group in the Nigerian Content Consultative Forum (NCCF) and the creation of the Women in Oil and Gas Product in the Nigerian Content Intervention Fund (NCI Fund).
He explained that the Bank of Industry (BoI) is responsible for managing the NCI Fund, assessing applications and disbursing loans to approved companies.
He said “the NCI Fund is one of the most successful loan schemes. About 98 percent of the borrowers are paying back because we go through a very rigorous process”.
Dwelling on the Project 100 Initiative of the Board, the Executive Secretary stated that it was designed to nurture 100 wholly owned oil and gas service providers in a competitive and sustainable way through targeted interventions, into larger scale players that create high impact.
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