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AfDB asks African countries to minimise greenhouse gas emissions from oil sector

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The African Development Bank (AfDB) has asked African countries to mitigate climate change by minimising greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from petroleum activities.  

Elisabeth Mitchell, independent advisor and consultant to the AfDB, said this on Wednesday during a presentation at a webinar series on natural gas and energy transition.

The webinar series was organised by the African natural resources management and investment centre of the AfDB Group, in partnership with the New Petroleum Producers Group (NPG).

GHGs are compound gases that trap heat radiation in the atmosphere and their presence makes the earth’s surface warmer.

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Mitchel said African governments should make minimising GHGs central to decisions in their countries’ petroleum sectors.

“Make minimising greenhouse gas emissions from your petroleum sector central to all decisions about that sector from inception to decommissioning,” she said. 

“It reduces the risks of your projects becoming stranded and allows you to develop your resource for the benefit of your population in a carbon-constrained era.”

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She also said minimising GHG emissions should be at the centre of all decisions about the sector “from initial project design, through operating practices, to a fully funded decommissioning plan”.

Mitchell added that a recent policy paper jointly produced by the bank and the NPG discusses emerging frameworks and technologies for decarbonising the oil and gas sector.

She said it offers practical policy recommendations on how to design legal, fiscal, and regulatory frameworks to obtain lowest emission projects.

“The paper discusses the levers that governments have at their disposal (and) the challenges governments face in moving from pledges to implementation,” she said. 

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She added that the paper suggested a framework “for decision-making and to support low GHG projects and makes recommendations in each of the key areas”.

“Governments need to focus on understanding petroleum sector emission; understanding and estimating GHG emissions; regulating and designing their sector to prevent routine flaring and methane leakage; introducing renewables into project designs; and addressing hard to abate residual emissions,” she said.

Mitchell, however, said implementation was a challenge.

“The bulk of emissions relates to the end use of petroleum products, and are spread among many users. These are difficult to reduce,” she said.

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“Emissions from upstream production of oil and gas are concentrated in producing countries that can act to have a significant impact by reducing them.”

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