When oil prospection and production started in the Niger Delta five (5) decades ago, the Local communities were not aware that the disposal of excessive Natural Gas through gas Flaring into the atmosphere posed any danger to both the local and global populations in the degree just becoming apparent now. It was in fact, assumed that the atmosphere was an infinite sink for gaseous pollutants, so what Industries and Oil Companies only needed were open pipes as Flare-stacks to discharge and flare away deleterious gaseous materials of their operations into the lower atmosphere.
But in a study instituted by the Rivers State Government [under PPD's supervision] with the Institute of Pollution Studies (IPS), University of Science and Technology Port-Harcourt, it was our discovery that the capacity of the lower atmosphere to absorb gaseous pollutants is in fact limited. The finite capacity of the troposphere can only be dynamically balanced with its self-purification capacity.
In order to maintain its integrity, the atmosphere initiates a "Self-purification process" from time to time to shed the atmospheric loads of pollutants as acid rains and other precipitations on the terrestrial environment below, and as OZONE-Layer hole-creation/hole depletion above (or in the stratosphere). The consequences of these adjustment processes are the potently dangerous phenomena of Ozone layer depletion. Greenhouse Effect and Global Warning which may lead to Climate Change, rising sea levels that constitute a threat to the coastal communities worldwide.
The primary reason for preparing this paper for the 1st SPE-AFRICA HEALTH, SAFETY, SECURITY AND ENVIRONMENT CONFERENCE AND EXHIBITION in Nairobi Kenya, was to share learning and experience from the West African Sub-region(Niger Delta) with the rest of the World, and in particular, the New Oil and Gas frontiers of EAST AFRICA. By so doing, we would be avoiding those practices that were found to be inimical to, and constituted flash-points of conflicts in the Oil producing areas and thereby foster peace, progress and sustainable development of the Oil Industry and the Country concerned.
It is therefore the object of this paper to explore and show case enough empirical facts and cognate scientific experience the way gas flaring equipment should be designed to minimize the emission of GHGs from the operation of the Oil fields of Africa and the World.
When viewed against the highlighted overwhelming global environmental hazards, the idea of eliminating open-pipe stacks becomes an easy imperative for the sustainable development of the Oil Industry in the face of the Kyoto Protocols.
The idea, though drastic, coincides strictly with the Theme of the Conference and the global perspectives on Green house Gas reduction in which Oil Industry Gas Flaring is a major contributor
Locally, the experiences and knowledge gained through the above Pioneering Study by the Petroleum Pollution Department (PPD) and other Non-governmental Agencies(NDES) had led to the recent Gas-Flare-Out Project of the Oil Companies in Nigeria.