Items filtered by date: Tuesday, 08 May 2018
The Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Dr. Maikanti Baru, has announced a three-point smart strategy aimed at ending gas flaring in the nation’s Oil and Gas Industry.

Dr. Baru made the announcement while delivering the lead paper on a panel session at the ongoing 50th Offshore Technology Conference (OTC), in Houston, United States of America.

Speaking on the theme: “Nigeria’s Gas Flare Commercialisation, Prospects & Opportunities”, Dr. Baru explained that in the last decade, gas flaring in Nigeria had reduced significantly from 25% to 10%.

According to the GMD, the multi-pronged approach taken by the NNPC would ensure a sustainable solution to the historical problem of flaring, thereby turning waste into dollars.

The 3-point strategy championed by NNPC to arrest the growth in gas flares includes ensuring non-submission of Field Development Plans (FDPs) to the Industry Regulator – the Department Petroleum Resources (DPR), without a viable and executable gas utilization plan, a move aimed at ensuring no new gas flare in current and future projects.

The other two strategies, Baru added, were a steady reduction of existing flares through a combination of targeted policy interventions in the Gas Master-plan as well as the re-invigoration of the flare penalty through the 2016 Nigeria Gas Flare Commercialization Programme (NGFCP) and through legislation, that is, ban on gas flaring via the recent Flare Gas (Prevention of Waste and Pollution) Regulations 2018.

This development, Baru added, would not only see Nigeria dropping from being the second highest gas flaring nation in the world to seventh, it would also signify a major milestone in its gas commercialization prospects.

“Total flares have significantly reduced to current levels of about 800mmscfd and in the next 1-2 years we would have completely ensured zero routine flares from all the gas producers,” the GMD stated.

According to him, NNPC has embarked on the most aggressive expansion of the gas infrastructure network aimed at creating access to the market.

“Today, we have completed and commissioned almost 600km of new gas pipelines thereby connecting all existing power plants to permanent gas supply pipeline. We are also currently completing the construction of the strategic 127km Obiafu-Obrikom-Oben gas pipeline – “OB 3” connecting the Eastern supply to the Western demand centres,” he added.

Dr. Baru further noted that aside looping Escravos-Lagos Pipeline System (ELPS 2) gas pipeline projects to increase gas volume capacity to at least 2Bcf/day, the corporation has recently signed the contracts to kick off the 614Km Ajaokuta-Kaduna-Kano (AKK) pipeline project, which on completion, would deliver gas to the ongoing power plants in the areas and revive the manufacturing industries in the northern part of the country.

He assured that there was evidence that the interventions undertaken by the corporation were working as gas supply to the domestic market is growing at an encouraging rate, having tripled from 500mmcf/d in 2010 to about 1500mmcf/d currently. 

Dr. Baru informed that the aggressive development of gas infrastructure (pipelines and processing plant) between supply sources and the market would also create a sustainable evacuation route for currently flared gas and other gas sources.

Earlier, speaking at a panel session on New Oil & Gas Horizons and Procurement Procurements in Sub-Saharan Africa, Dr. Baru had maintained that huge opportunities abound in Nigeria’s Gas Sector, with the country expecting over $25 billion investments anticipated over the next 10 years.

He described the Nigerian Petroleum Industry as the largest and the most vibrant in Sub-Saharan Africa with lots of potentials, especially in the deep water and untapped gas resources.

Noting that Nigeria offers unique opportunities for investment in exploration, refining, storage, transportation, power, distribution and marketing of petroleum products, Dr. Baru further observed that the nation’s Gas Reform was anchored on a robust strategic framework that is focused on maximum economic impact through gas. 

Published in News Economy
Nigeria’s Ministry of Petroleum has approved the recommendation by the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), to revoke three Oil Mining Leases (OMLs) operated by Shell Petroleum Development Company, a local arm of Shell, the Anglo Dutch major.

The 17 acreages that Shell submitted for renewal purposes were: OMLs 11, 17, 20, 21, 22, 23, 25, 27, 28 31, 32, 33, 35, 36, 43, 45 and 46. The properties were due to expire in 2019.

The acreages revoked include OMLs 31, 33 and 36.

Licences for 13 of the remaining 14 leases were renewed but the DPR proposed that OML 11 be split into three because it is too large (2,800sq km). Those renewed have a new lease of life for another 20 years.

Shell will have a new OML 11, which is one of the three tracts carved out from the old OML 11, but it can apply for only one of the remaining two, according to ranking sources at the Ministry of Petroleum Resources in Abuja.

In other words, the DPR expects Shell to re-apply for the “new” acreages carved out of OML 11, either in sum or in parts, but ministry sources say that the company is unlikely to be re-awarded all the three. Shell had not re-applied as of April 17, 2018.

The old OML 11 was actually under a Shell divestment programme when the AngloDutch giant applied for its renewal; Shell is talking with Transcorp, a Nigerian company which is scouting for $1Billion to pay for 45% of OMLs 11 &17. It is not clear how that transaction will work under the government’s “split it to three acreages” instruction.

Other interests, including a company named Robo Michael, claiming to be championing a community cause, have laid claim to those parts of the old OML 11 which lie in Ogoniland, a piece of territory where Shell had been refused access by the communities for upwards of 23 years. Bodo, Bodo West and Yorla fields, all in Ogoniland, are in the south of the old OML 11. It’s not clear where they would be, when the government concludes the split.

But a renewal of OML 11 licence, either in wholesale or in pieces, improves the investment climate around the asset.

Transcorp has struggled, without success, to raise money to purchase the 45% because of the nearness of the licence expiry date.

Published in Business

The African Development Bank is leading talks with Zimbabwe and its creditors to make plans for the nation to pay off some of its arrears so it can restore relations with lenders, said Akinwumi Adesina, the bank’s president.

During almost two decades of economic mismanagement the southern African nation’s debt surged to more than 70 percent of gross domestic product and the economy has halved in size since 2000, according to the government.

“We’re talking with the government and were looking for a way we can all have a common agreement and hopefully reach a mutually acceptable timeline for an arrears clearance,” Adesina said in an interview on Monday in Johannesburg. “The AfDB is spearheading that conversation with all the creditors.”

While Zimbabwe has paid $110 million of arrears to the International Monetary Fund, it’s still saddled with $1.7 billion of arrears to the AfDB and World Bank. The Finance Ministry forecast total debt of $14.5 billion in the 2018 budget.

It needs to clear the arrears so it can once again seek foreign assistance from lenders such as the IMF.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa took power in November when Robert Mugabe resigned as the nation’s leader after the military temporarily took control and effectively ended his 37-year reign. He has pledged to revive the economy and sell bonds to finance infrastructure development.

“With the new government it creates a new opportunity to support the country to unlock its potential and to stabilize,” Adesina said. A new Zimbabwe is great for “political stability and regional trade in the Southern African Development Community area.”

The nation abandoned its own currency in 2009 as runaway inflation rendered it worthless, opting instead for a basket of currencies that includes the dollar, South Africa’s rand, the pound and Botswana’s pula.

 

- Bloomberg

Published in Economy

Cereal farmers across Sub-Saharan Africa are experiencing heavy losses due to the devastation by an invasive pest: the Fall army worm - Spodoptera frugiperda.

In Africa it has caused huge losses to staple cereals, especially maize and sorghum, affecting food security and trade. Damage to maize alone is estimated to be between USD$ 2.5 - 6.2 billion per year.

The fall armyworm’s lifespan, from egg to larva to moth, lasts between one to three months. It’s during the larva stage that it does the most crop damage. Controlling them is a challenge because they reproduce fast and in large numbers, can migrate great distances, hide within growing leaves and have been reported to resist several pesticides. Emergency responses by the affected countries have been based on the use of pesticides, but in most cases this has proven costly and not very effective.

Adult male moth. Sevgan Subramanian

Various tactics – both old and new – are being tested to try and control the fall army worm in Africa. These include the use of inter-cropping technology, natural enemies, early warning systems and use of biopesticides.

To combat the voracious pest, and prevent the huge losses, policymakers, extension agencies and growers could learn from the experiences of farmers in the Americas, and adapt the same to suit the smallholder African production system. This knowledge must be shared with farmers and agricultural officers. And any policy developed must involve local and international stakeholders before being rolled out.

Stopping the outbreak

The pest, an alien from the Americas, was first reported in Africa in 2016. Starting in the São Tomé and Príncipe islands and Nigeria, in just two years it spread to over 38 African countries.

The speed with which they spread could be due to a few factors. Firstly, female armyworms produce a huge number of eggs (between 50 - 200 eggs per batch), and can have up to 10 batches within her lifespan. Secondly, the moths are carried by the wind across vast distances. Some have been known to travel up to 1,000km. Thirdly, numbers aren’t being reduced by their natural enemies which means they can multiply uninhibited.

All these factors are crucial to keep in mind when managing an outbreak.

Pesticides: In Sub-Saharan Africa, most food is produced by smallholder farmers. When they try to control an outbreak they will often use pesticides as these are believed to instantly suppress the pest. The use of chemical pesticides seems to be most common practice that is currently heavily supported by government.

But pesticides can be harmful, particularly to the environment as they affect non-targeted organisms, like bees.

Though often overlooked, there are other, more natural approaches which have proven effective.

Push-pull and other intercropping technology: In this approach crops are grown alongside one another. Some act as a deterrent to insect pests and weeds. The system has reduced pest infestation drastically. This technology has the additional benefit of providing high quality fodder for livestock and improving yields and soil fertility.

For example, when a “trap” crop (such as napier grass) is planted around maize rows, it attracts stemborer moths to lay eggs on it. But, because the grass isn’t nutritious, very few stem borer larvae will survive.

In the case of fall armyworm, this has proven effective when maize is inter-cropped with drought-tolerant greenleaf desmodium and planting Brachiaria as a border crop around this intercrop. When compared to monocrop areas, data collected from over 250 farmers, who adopted this technology in drier areas of Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania, showed a reduction of 82.7% in the average number of larvae per plant and 86.7% in plant damage per plot. Intercropping maize with edible legumes can also result in up to 40% reduction in armyworm incidence and damage.

On the basis of these multiple benefits the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology and partners are rolling out the approach in sub-Saharan Africa.

Early warning,surveillance and monitoring systems: Surveillance and monitoring are crucial to managing an outbreak. They ensure that identification happens very early, before a full outbreak, and allows for proper response management.

Pheromone traps, which use the smell of a female armyworm to attract a male, can be a very useful surveillance tool. Judging by the number of moths captured, an infestation can be quickly recognised. These types of surveillance systems are already being demonstrated within some communities. The traps can also be used for mass trappings to reduce the numbers.

Biocontrol: several ecologically sustainable biocontrol solutions are available to farmers. The release of natural enemies is one of them. Parasitic wasps for example can provide (up to 70%) control for fall armyworm by laying their eggs on or inside the fall armyworm eggs or larvae.

Scientists at International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology have also identified locally available natural enemies, such as the wasp Cotesia icipe, which has proven effective against the armyworm larvae in the lab.

If these natural enemies are reared in bulk, they can be released in huge numbers in affected fields and conserved. As they multiply in the fields, they can control the pest as they feed on the pest’s larvae.

Biopesticides: These are a fungal, viral or bacteria based product which kill the fall army worm. Examples include the fungi-like Metarhizium anisopliae or bacteria-based Bacillus thuringiensis that have proven effective against fall armyworm and have been used to control it in the US and Brazil.

There are also botanical pesticides which act as both deterrent and toxins. These can prevent the caterpillar from feeding on the crop but also interfere with its ability to grow.

Efforts to control fall armyworm by African governments could draw on the lessons of all these interventions which have been used in the Americas but also trialled in Africa. Obviously, local adaptations will need to be made. But the Fall army worm will remain in Africa for a long time unless concerted action is taken, drawing on the various methods from America and those available in Africa.

 

Saliou Niassy, Head of Technology Transfer Unit, International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology ICIPE, International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology and Sevgan Subramanian, Entomologist and Insect Pathologist, International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Published in Agriculture

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