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Lawyers examine 2018 gas flaring regulation


Gas flaring PHOTO:

Getting acquainted with the provisions of the 2018 Gas Flare (Prevention of Waste and Pollution) Regulation recently gazetted by the federal government formed the basis of a two-day retreat organized in Lagos by Lawyers in the Oil and Gas Industry at the weekend.

The retreat, with the theme: “Sensitization on the Gas Flare Regulations” highlighted the negative consequences of gas flaring and examined various perspectives of the regulation to producers as well as legal practitioners.

The guest speaker to the first session, Serena Dokubo Spiff, lamented that gas flaring had rendered the soil infertile, destroyed farmlands and the ecosystem.

“The rivers where the people fetch water to drink has been contaminated and sand-filled because of oil spills. The fishermen have walked away from their vocation in utter defeat and resignation”, the monarch who is also a lawyer said, wondering why polluters pay compensation to government instead of the victimized communities.

The programme manager, Nigerian Gas Flare Commercialization Programme, Justice Derefaka, said the regulation was very comprehensive and was made after wide consultation with stakeholders, adding that its provisions would form part of the Gas Flaring bill before the National Assembly.

According to him, “the National Assembly is working to change the fiscal policy such that when polluters (oil companies) pay the Flare penalty… it won’t be tax deductible anymore hence mimicking the carbon tax and polluters pay principle in place

“The only thing the National Assembly is working to change is the fiscal policy where the polluter pays flare penalty. It is not tax deductible.

“The way we couched the regulation is that the polluter pays a principal sum like other parts of the world. The Canadian government recently put a price on carbon pollution and we have to do same here”, he pointed.

Chairman, Lawyers in Oil and Gas Network, Mr. George Etomi, in his welcome address, lamented that successive governments have failed to pass and sign into law, the Petroleum Industry Bill for lack of political will.

According to him, corruption is at the root of it. “The bastion of corruption in the oil and gas industry and the total lack of transparency is monumental. It is a minefield for anybody who goes there and it is holding us back because we are unable to utilize the revenue from oil and gas to diversify the economy”, he stated.

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