GAS FLARING AND ITS EFFECT ON THE ENVIRONMENT
This work deals with the multi-faceted impact of gas flaring on a global scale and the different approach employed by researchers to measuring gas flared and its resulting emissions and the effect on environment, life and so on. It gives an overview of method employed by these researchers in the oil and gas industry, academia and government in attempt to determining ways of measuring and reducing gas flaring and its emission drastically. The outcome indicates that there is a seemingly absence of a single global method, emission factor and estimation procedure used in the oil and gas industry all over the world to determine the volume of gas flared and its effects be it from complete or in complete combustion and this posses a continuous problem in determining the actual level. An attempt has being made to cover up trends in gas flaring and current development in some of the most flared countries.
The impact of gas flaring is of local and global concern. Gas flaring is one of the most challenging energy and environmental problems facing the world today whether regionally or globally. It is a multi-billion dollar waste, a local environmental catastrophe and a global energy and environmental problem which had persisted for decades. The World Bank has estimated that the annual volume of associated gas being flared and vented is about 110 billion cubic meters, which is enough fuel to providing the combined annual natural gas consumption of Germany and France. Flaring in Africa is about thirty seven billion cubic meters in the year 2000, which could produce 200 Terawatt hours (Twh) of electricity. And which is also about 50% of the cement power consumption of the African continent and more than twice the level of power consumption in sub-Saharan African with the exception of the republic of south African. Gas flaring is a common practice in the oil and gas production processes globally, Libya for instance flares about 21% of its natural gas, while said Arabia, Canada and Algeria flare 20%, 8% and 50% respectively. This implies that Nigeria has one of the work rates of gas flaring in the world. In 2003, Nigeria flared about 76% of its natural gas. Gas flaring is thus occur during petroleum refining and chemical processing for safe disposal of waste gases during process upsets, plant start-up or shut down and as well as process emergencies. Flaring is a high- temperature oxidation process used to burn combustible components mostly hydrocarbons, of waste gases from industrial operation Gas flaring is the combustion of associated gas produced with crude oil or form gas fields.
The option to release gas to the atmosphere by flaring and venting is an essential practice in oil and gas production, primary for safety reasons. Flaring is the controlled burning of natural gas produced in association with oil in the course of routine oil and gas production operations. Venting is the controlled release of gas into the atmosphere in the course of oil and gas production operation. Solving the problem of this “nuisance” called venting while ensuring safe operation and to minimize undesirable venting, led to the introduction of flaring. Gas flaring is choice disposal option for handling waste hydrocarbon gases because of their ability to burn efficiently.
However, one of the problems associated with crude oil exploration and exploration in Akwa Ibom state of Nigeria is linked to gas flaring where as at 2005, crude oil is brought to the surface from several kilometers below, the gas associated with such oil extraction usually comes to the surface as well. If the oil is produced in those areas of the world that lacks gas infrastructure or a nearby gas market, a significant portion of the related gas may be released into the atmosphere either uninvited (vent) or ignited (flared).
Gas flaring contributes to climate change which has serious implications for both Nigeria and the rest of the world. Nigeria is one of the highest emitter of green house gases in African and among the highest carbon (IV) oxides emitters in the world. The burning of fossil fuel, mainly coal, oil and gas led to the warming up the environment through the emissions of carbon dioxide (co2) as the main green house gas, particulate matter, hydrocarbons and ash, photochemical oxidants and hydrogen supplied (H2S). The flares also contributes to acid rain, which apart from corroding corrugated aluminum roofs, acidify the soil, thereby causing soil fertility loss and damaging crops