National Oil Spill Detection & Response Agency (NOSDRA): NOSDRA is the government agency responsible for monitoring and control of oil spills in Nigeria. The functions of the Agency include surveillance and ensuring compliance with all existing environmental legislation and the detection of oil spills in the petroleum sector. As part of its duties, the Agency receives reports of oil spillages and coordinates oil spill response activities.
With these frameworks in place and the country’s global position, the gas market is met with dire challenges. Between 2016 and 2020, Nigeria flared 1 252.26 trillion cubic feet of natural gas into the atmosphere, according to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation’s monthly oil and gas reports. Gas flaring is the process by which natural gas that comes with extracting petroleum, is burned off in the atmosphere. Alternative means of gas flaring include confining the gas to storage tanks for resale, subterranean re-injection, etc. People residing in communities where gas flaring occurs in Nigeria have their health affected. Exposure to air pollutants released by gas flaring has been linked to diseases such as cancer, lung damage, and neurological and reproductive problems. Also, according to the World Bank, gas flaring costs the global economy US$20 billion in 2018. The Nigerian economy lost N233 billion (US$761.6 million) to gas flaring which translates to 3.8% of the global total cost in 2018.
However, in section 104 of the Petroleum Industry Act 2021, a licensee, lessee, or marginal oil field operator can only flare or vent gas in the event of an emergency, where exemption has been granted by the Commission and where such flare is the acceptable safety practice under the regulation. The penalty is a fine as stipulated by the Commission. This penalty is not enough to curb this act. The ripple effect of this is the triggering of the locals in these communities where this gas extraction happens.
Over time, the Government has done its best in keeping the peace with the gas companies and the locals. The Government created the Host Community Development Trust Fund (HCDTF) whose purpose will be to, among others, foster sustainable prosperity, provide direct social and economic benefits from petroleum to host communities, and enhance peaceful and harmonious coexistence between licensees or lessees and host communities. However, if gas flaring continues and poses danger to the lives of the locals, it could lead to a revolt that would affect business and lives in these areas, which would invariably create an unattractive look to potential investors.
Also, the country has significant domestic demand for gas, mainly from the power sector. The gas-fired power plants in the country are consistently under-utilized due to the lack of an uninterrupted gas supply. Over time, gas producers have been cautious about investing in gas infrastructure in the country, as a result of low gas prices and lack of assurance or guarantee of payment from the power generating companies. Hence, the processes of the gas supply agreement have been fraught with challenges. For a producing country ranked seventeenth in the world, the government has a lot of legal framework overhauling to do.
Furthermore, political risks are not ideal for investors in emerging markets such as the gas market. Prior to investing, investors undertake extensive due diligence to ensure that such risks are adequately addressed or mitigated. Where the costs of mitigating or addressing outweigh the benefits, they simply move to another market.
Foreign Direct Investment in Nigeria continues to be led by the oil and gas sector. This means that any factor that affects foreign investment will disproportionately hit the gas sector, affecting players across the value chain and causing the country to lose out on potentially large energy deals.
A 2021 Marsh political risk index placed Nigeria’s political risk in the range of 6.1 to 8 out of 10, the same category as countries like Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and North Korea. An Africa Risk-Reward index from 2017 pinpointed it to 7.3, a number which would have very likely risen to hit the top of the range indicated by Marsh, with an imminent possibility of crossing into the political risk red zone where we have countries like Syria.