Nigeria deploys satellite to detect gas flaring

Due to prevailing cases of gas flaring in the petroleum sector, Nigeria has started using a satellite tracking system to help it bring in more than $1bn yearly in fines for illegal gas flaring.

The new gas flare tracker is an online map showing data from a United States National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration satellite that will observe natural gas fires when orbiting over Nigeria.

The measurements it records will feed into estimates of how much gas is burned, its carbon dioxide content, and its potential value.

“It has the ability to calculate the amount of unpaid fines owed by facility owners, estimated at $1.1bn per year,” Environment Minister, Laurentia Mallam, said at an event unveiling the system in the capital, Abuja.

While it was outlawed in 1984, the burning of gas that occurs in oil deposits “is still a major cause of human and environmental issues across the country,” she said.

If harnessed, the minister said, gas could meet 40 per cent of energy needs in Nigeria, as the country is currently struggling to generate enough electricity to keep the lights on for more than two or three hours a day in some parts of the country.

The tracking system will paint a “stark picture of the extent of gas flaring in this country,” the Britain’s High Commissioner to Nigeria, Andrew Pocock, said at the event.

The United Kingdom’s Department for International Development provided funding for the project.

Nigeria produces 1.8 million barrels a day of crude oil, 2.2 million barrels when condensate is included, the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, told reporters on Thursday before the start of a meeting of the 12-member Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries in Vienna

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