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Since 2000 The Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited (SPDC) has worked with its joint venture partners and the Federal Government of Nigeria towards the objective of ending the continuous flaring of associated gas.
In many oil fields gas is produced with crude oil when it is brought to the surface. When SPDC operated Joint Venture (SPDC JV) first built production facilities in the 1950s and 1960s there was little demand or market for this ‘associated’ gas. Consequently the majority of it was burned off – a process called flaring. In recent years, demand for gas in Nigeria and other countries has grown whilst the technology to harness, liquefy and export gas has matured.
WHAT WE ARE DOING ABOUT IT
Since 2000 all new SPDC JV facilities have been designed to eliminate continuous flaring of associated gas. In parallel, a multi-year programme was implemented to install equipment for capturing associated gas from older facilities. As a result, flaring volume from SPDC JV facilities was reduced by 85% between 2002 and 2015 and flaring intensity (the amount of gas flared per tonne of oil and gas produced) by around 70% over the same period.
A reduction of gas flared from SPDC JV’s operations continued in 2015 with a 28% decrease compared to 2014 and a flaring intensity reduction of 15% from the previous year. Progress was made on several gas gathering projects, which are now at advanced stages of completion. For example, we have installed a gas-gathering plant at the Olama Station that is ready for final commissioning. The Adibawa, Escravos and Otumara Gas Gathering Projects are also at advanced stages of completion. However, the planned start-up dates for two major gas gathering projects - Forcados Yokri Integrated Project (FYIP) and Southern Swamp Associated Gas Gathering (SSAG) Solutions - have been delayed due to a lack of adequate joint-venture funding.
Despite these challenges the overall trend in flares reduction is positive and SPDC JV continues to invest in major gas gathering such as the FYIP & SSAG & Gbaran Phase 2 projects that will drive further reductions.
FLARING AND HEALTH
SPDC JV has monitored ambient air quality levels around its flare sites since 1998 and regularly reports the results to government authorities, as required by Nigerian regulations. Overall, these standards are equivalent to international air quality standards followed in the EU, US and those set by the World Health Organisation. Monitoring work is also carried out by independent contractors.
SPDC JV recognises the importance of addressing local communities’ 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 broader Environmental Impact Assessments conducted for all major projects and continues after operations commence.