Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Oil and Gas (5): The Evaporating Opportunity

This Day
11 November 2011

Nasir. elrufai@thisdaylive.com

The gas component of the Nigerian oil & gas sector is vast in quantity and potential - much more than oil, yet it remains sub-optimally developed.  Compared with the estimated crude oil reserves of 40 billion barrels, our gas deposit is some 184 trillion cubic feet (tcf) - about the seventh largest gas reserves in the world. Our gas quality is high and particularly rich in liquids and low in sulphur.

There are however other structural weaknesses in the sub-sector that are likely to constrain the extraction of our gas and conversion into real developmental benefits for the nation. A typical constraint of extracting the large gas reserves is that about 40 per cent of it is stranded in gas caps and not accessible until much later in time, after the production of crude oil has been completed.

Though most of the gas being produced today is associated with crude oil production (associated gas), most of it is not utilised due to poor infrastructure, short-sightedness and is therefore flared. The monetary value of this wasted gas can generate between 40,000 and 60,000mw of electricity, enough to power the whole West African sub-region.

In monetary terms, it is estimated at between $0.5 billion to $2.5 billion per annum and the negative environmental impact, mainly carbon dioxide emissions, amount to roughly 35 million metric tonnes per annum, about 25 per cent of the world's total. Not all the news from the gas sector is hot air!

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