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Putting Out the Fire: How Nigeria Has Quietly Cut Flaring By 70%

Updated: Jan 28, 2021

Sometimes we miss good news, even in fighting climate pollution (where good news isn’t very common). This is even more likely if the good news is from a place where common misperceptions suggest that there won’t be good news. For example, did you know that Nigeria has dramatically reduced natural gas flaring?

Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa and one of the world’s largest producers of oil and natural gas, and its struggles with oil and gas pollution have long been known. From the early days of the industry in the late 1950’s, the primary product of hydrocarbon extraction in the Niger Delta has been oil. Gas was viewed as a waste product, something to be disposed of as quickly as possible. This led to massive amounts of flaring of the associated gas that is found alongside oil in underground deposits. Nigeria was flaring enough gas to make it second only to Russia in flaring volumes, while Russia produced considerably more oil than Nigeria. Even as recently as 2000, Nigeria was flaring roughly 55% of all the gas it was pulling out of the ground. The amount of energy wasted by this flaring was enough to power Belgium.