20 private refineries’ licences expire over inactivity

Twenty of the 43 licences granted by the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) to set up private refineries in Nigeria have expired without going beyond the initial level of Licence to Establish (LTE), The Guardian reports.

Another seven of these licences will expire between July and August, bringing the total to 28, which had been idle for three years, while their validity is two years. This was contained in a report by DPR on Licensed Refineries in Nigeria as at 31st January 2018 released recently. However, the 5,000 barrels per day (BPD) capacity Waltersmith Refining and Petrochemical Company Limited, located in Ibigwe, Imo State, has gone beyond LTE to approval to construct (ATC).

Clairgold Oil and Gas Engineering Limited, Niger Delta Petroleum Resources, and Dee Jones, have also advanced to the level of construction. The report revealed that the 500,000 bpd Dangote Oil Refinery Company located in the Lekki Free Trade Zone, Lagos, has been granted Detailed Engineering Design Approval by the industry regulator. Similarly, the 24,000bpd Kaiji Resources Limited refinery in Oguta, Imo State has also been granted Front End Engineering Design Approval.

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Eight power plants incapacitated following operational constraints

Data from the Power Generation Report by the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing, has shown that at least eight out of the 27 power plants in Nigeria were shut down on April 9, due to gas, line and frequency management constraints, The Guardian reports.

The Trans Amadi Gas Turbine (GT) 1 and 2 were out due to line constraints while GT 3 was due to a fault. GT 4 tripped on generator differential lockout. Also, ASCO Power plant GT1, was shut down due to leakage in the furnace, while Ihovbor Nigerian National Integrated Power Project (NIPP) GT 1 was out due to gas constraint. GT2 was also out due to a malfunctioning gas regulating valve. Alaoji NIPP Gas Turbine 1, 2, and 4 tripped due to low gas pressure, while GT3 was shutdown due to generator air inlet filter trouble.

Afam IV and V Gas Power Plant GT13-16 were out on blade failure. GT17 tripped on loss of excitation. GT18 was out on inspection and maintenance, while GT19 and 20 are awaiting major overhaul. Sapele Steam’s ST1 tripped on low drum level, ST2 was shut down for maintenance, ST3 was out on stator winding problem, ST4 and 5 are awaiting major overhaul while ST6 tripped on gas control valve not following reference point.

What if we’re not Earth’s first big civilization?

(Credit: Getty Images)

How do we really know that there weren’t civilizations on Earth before ours? A new paper addresses this question.

Imagine if, many millions of years ago, dinosaurs drove cars through cities of mile-high buildings. A preposterous idea, right? Over the course of tens of millions of years, however, all of the direct evidence of a civilization—its artifacts and remains—gets ground to dust. How do we know there weren’t previous industrial civilizations on Earth that rose and fell long before human beings appeared?

It’s a compelling thought experiment, and one that Adam Frank, a professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Rochester, and Gavin Schmidt, the director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, take up in the International Journal of Astrobiology. Frank also considers the evidence in The Atlantic.

The history of the world

“Gavin and I have not seen any evidence of another industrial civilization,” Frank explains. But by looking at the deep past in the right way, a new set of questions about civilizations and the planet appears: What geological footprints do civilizations leave? Is it possible to detect an industrial civilization in the geological record once it disappears from the face of its host planet?

“These questions make us think about the future and the past in a much different way, including how any planetary-scale civilization might rise and fall.”

In what they deem the “Silurian Hypothesis,” Frank and Schmidt define a civilization by its energy use.

Human beings are just entering a new geological era that many researchers refer to as the Anthropocene, the period in which human activity strongly influences the climate and environment. In the Anthropocene, fossil fuels have become central to the geological footprint humans will leave behind on Earth.

By looking at the Anthropocene’s imprint, Schmidt and Frank examine what kinds of clues future scientists might detect to determine that human beings existed. In doing so, they also lay out evidence of what might be left behind if industrial civilizations like ours existed millions of years in the past.

Human beings began burning fossil fuels more than 300 years ago, marking the beginnings of industrialization. The researchers note that the emission of fossil fuels into the atmosphere has already changed the carbon cycle in a way that is recorded in carbon isotope records.

Other ways human beings might leave behind a geological footprint include:

  • Global warming, from the release of carbon dioxide and perturbations to the nitrogen cycle from fertilizers
  • Agriculture, through greatly increased erosion and sedimentation rates
  • Plastics, synthetic pollutants, and even things such as steroids, which will be geochemically detectable for millions, and perhaps even billions, of years
  • Nuclear war, if it happened, which would leave behind unusual radioactive isotopes

“As an industrial civilization, we’re driving changes in the isotopic abundances because we’re burning carbon,” Frank says. “But burning fossil fuels may actually shut us down as a civilization. What imprints would this or other kinds of industrial activity from a long dead civilization leave over tens of millions of years?”

A new perspective on climate change

The questions that Frank and Schmidt raise are part of a broader effort to address climate change from an astrobiological perspective, and a new way of thinking about life and civilizations across the universe. Looking at the rise and fall of civilizations in terms of their planetary impacts can also affect how researchers approach future explorations of other planets.

“We know early Mars and, perhaps, early Venus were more habitable than they are now, and conceivably we will one day drill through the geological sediments there, too,” Schmidt says. “This helps us think about what we should be looking for.”

Schmidt points to an irony, however: if a civilization is able to find a more sustainable way to produce energy without harming its host planet, it will leave behind less evidence that it was there.

“You want to have a nice, large-scale civilization that does wonderful things but that doesn’t push the planet into domains that are dangerous for itself, the civilization,” Frank says. “We need to figure out a way of producing and using energy that doesn’t put us at risk.”

That said, the earth will be just fine, Frank says. It’s more a question of whether humans will be.

Can we create a version of civilization that doesn’t push the earth into a domain that’s dangerous for us as a species?

“The point is not to ‘save the earth,’” says Frank. “No matter what we do to the planet, we’re just creating niches for the next cycle of evolution. But, if we continue on this trajectory of using fossil fuels and ignoring the climate change it drives, we human beings may not be part of Earth’s ongoing evolution.”

Inspiration from Doctor Who

Frank and Schmidt call their study the Silurian Hypothesis after a race of intelligent, bipedal reptiles—known as the Silurians—introduced in a 1970 episode of the British science fiction series Doctor Who.

The Silurians supposedly evolved on Earth during the eponymous era, a geological time period lasting from 443 million to 416 million years ago. To avoid any kind of catastrophe, the reptiles went into hibernation for millions of years before secret nuclear experiments in a Welsh mine awakened them.

“When we were writing this paper,” Schmidt says, “I tried to find examples of terrestrial, non-human civilizations in the science-fiction literature, but I wasn’t able to find anything earlier than the 1970s. Despite it being exceedingly unlikely that there were any civilizations in the Silurian period—this was before the land plants and animals had really established themselves—it seemed fitting to name our idea after the first example that people thought about, even if this is fiction.”

Source: University of Rochester

Osinbajo lauds nation’s robotics team to U.S. for outstanding show

Members of Team Nigeria to the First Robotic Olympics in U.S.
Members of Team Nigeria to the First Robotic Olympics in U.S.

By Donald Ugwu

The Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, has praised the effort of Team Nigeria to the First Global Robotic Olympics in Washington DC, U.S., in 2017 for its outstanding performance at the challenge.

He made the commendation while receiving the six-member team, their project Director, Mentor and sponsors to the July 14 to July 19, 2017 event in Abuja.

Osinbajo said that Nigeria had so many young talents who could do the nation proud in any international competition.

“We very strongly believe that this country has the talent and these young people demonstrated it eloquently.

“They have the talent and the creativity and all that it takes to make the kind of difference that could be done in technology,’’ he said.

He said that he was glad that they youth were working as a  team, which was the best way to go, adding that it was an indication that personalised achievement was no longer viable.

He said that having seen a team of dedicated young people, the government would have to support and encourage them.

Osinbajo said he looked forward to a better outing of Team Nigeria in the next Olympic challenge to hold in Mexico in August this year.

He said that the next challenge would be interesting to the country as it focused on energy impact.

He said it would support the country’s work on green energy for which it set up the first green bond as part of efforts to create green environment and looking at how to mitigate the effects of climate change.

“We do have some resources that we can commit to that and it will be very useful if we work with you on this coming challenge.

“It is important that this team stays together and that they are able to grow their ideas,’’ he said.

Osinbajo said it was important to institutionalise a scientific challenge in the country by involving young scientists even if it occurred during the long holidays.

He said that an endowment could be created to fill the technology gap.

The Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu, pledged the support of the Ministry of Education and that of Science and Technology toward the August Olympiad.

The leader of the delegation, Mrs Remi Willouby, a retired robotics teacher, said that the Team Nigeria came first in one category and second in another out of the 10 categories of awards.

She said out of 163 teams from 157 countries in the competition, the country placed 25th globally and emerged third of the 41 African countries in attendance.

“What is important is that we are building a group of children that can change this country using innovation,’’ she said.

Willouby stressed the need for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education being a critical component in the development of the country.

She called for Federal Government support in the 2018 challenge.

Mr Faisal Jarmakani, the Managing Director of Aramex and Mr Omar Jarmakani of Doculand, who sponsored the team Nigeria, said the company’s mission was to give the young ones the international exposure in science and technology.

They expressed the hope to build on the platform to enable it excel and achieve something bigger.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that team Nigeria built and demonstrated a robot used in the purification of water for consumption at the U.S. challenge.

FAO approves ‘climate-friendly’ solar irrigation pumps for agriculture

The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has approved solar powered irrigation system as new way to develop agriculture.

josé-graziano-da-silva

The organisation made the disclosure in its news report made available on Sunday, April 15, 2018 in Abuja. It stated that the system was affordable and climate-friendly for both small-scale and large-scale farmers in developing countries.

FAO, however, warned on how to make the most of innovation and guard against water waste that the system needed to be adequately managed and regulated to avoid the risk of unsustainable water use.

It noted that the innovation had become imperative because the sharp and ongoing drops in price of photovoltaic panels gave new impetus to renewable energy source as a way to enhance irrigation capacity.

The report quoted Helena Semedo, the FAO Deputy Director-General, as saying: “A further price reduction could power a revolution in places such as sub-Saharan Africa, where only three per cent of cultivated area was irrigated, seven times less than global average.”

She added that the rapid expansion of more affordable solar-powered irrigation offered viable solutions that span the water-energy-food nexus, providing great opportunity for small-holders to improve their livelihoods, economic prosperity and food security.

She stated that “about 20 per cent of cultivated land across the globe is irrigated, contributing to about 40 per cent of total food output.

“Irrigation boosts agricultural productivity in various ways, as well as allows more and varied crops per year.

“Sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America have relatively low deployment of irrigation on croplands, indicating sizeable potential gains there.”

Eduardo Mansur, the Director of FAO’s Land and Water Division, also said that apart from solar energy offering cheaper services, it increased the urgency of making sure that appropriate water management and governance systems were in place.

He urged leaders in sub-Saharan Africa to think strategically about how the technology could be used to encourage sustainable use of groundwater resources to avoid risks such as wasteful water-use and over-abstraction of groundwater.

Mansur said solar powered irrigation systems indicated the potential to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions per unit of energy used for water pumping by more than 95 per cent compared to alternatives fuelled by diesel or fossil-fuel driven electricity grids.

The director urged governments to review their incentive schemes to favour “Green subsidies” over fossil fuels.

Mansur said solar irrigation pumps could also cause unsustainable groundwater extraction, as farmers expand planted areas or switch to more water-intensive crops.

He said that irrigation policy decisions should be taken after proper water accounting over larger territorial areas, as rainfall, surface water, groundwater, soil moisture and evaporation processes linked to different land uses are all part of the same hydrological cycle.

The FAO report stated that a survey of technical experts from 25 countries suggested that in three-fourths of nations’ government programmes and policies to promote small-scale irrigation, fewer than half had specific regulations limiting groundwater abstraction for such purposes.

It revealed that solar panels produced energy even at times when no irrigation was needed, opening up significant opportunities to run rice huskers, mills, water purifiers and cold storage units, all contributing to rural development and incomes.

It noted that in some cases, solar power could become “remunerative crop” if farmers were encouraged to reduce over-pumping water by opting to pool and sell their surplus energy to electricity grid.

Facebook Takes Down 270 Pages to Stop Repeat of Cambridge Analytica

Facebook Takes Down 270 Pages to Stop Repeat of Cambridge Analytica

Today we’re taking an important step to protect the integrity of elections around the world by taking down more than 270 pages and accounts operated by a Russian organization called the Internet Research Agency (IRA). Most of our actions against the IRA to date have been to prevent them from interfering in foreign elections. This update is about taking down their pages targeting people living in Russia. This Russian agency has repeatedly acted deceptively and tried to manipulate people in the US, Europe, and Russia, and we don’t want them on Facebook anywhere in the world.

Here’s more background on our efforts to protect the integrity of elections:

After 2016, we found that the Russian IRA had set up a network of hundreds of fake accounts to spread divisive content and interfere in the US presidential election. We began investigating their activity globally and taking down their pages and accounts.

Since then, we have improved our techniques to prevent nation states from interfering in foreign elections, and we’ve built more advanced AI tools to remove fake accounts more generally. There have been a number of important elections since then where these new tools have been successfully deployed. For example:

In France, leading up to the presidential election in 2017, we found and took down 30,000 fake accounts.

In Germany, before the 2017 elections, we worked directly with the Federal Office for Information Security to learn from them about the threats they saw and to share information.

In the US Senate Alabama special election last year, we deployed new AI tools that proactively detected and removed fake accounts from Macedonia trying to spread misinformation.

We have also significantly increased our investment in security. We now have about 15,000 people working on security and content review. We’ll have more than 20,000 by the end of this year.

These efforts have all made it harder for nation states to interfere in foreign elections. With today’s update, we have now identified a large network the IRA is using to manipulate people in Russia itself. This is the next step towards removing them from Facebook entirely.

We’ve found the IRA has been using complex networks of fake accounts to deceive people. While we respect people and governments sharing political views on Facebook, we do not allow them to set up fake accounts to do this. When an organization does this repeatedly, we take down all of their pages, including ones that may not be fake themselves. The pages and accounts we took down today were removed because they were controlled by the IRA, not based on the content they shared.

This particular set of pages and accounts was used to target people in Russia and people speaking Russian in neighboring countries like Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan and Ukraine. In this case, some of the pages we removed belong to Russian news organizations that we determined were controlled by the IRA. About one million people followed at least one of their Facebook pages and about 500,000 followed at least one of their Instagram accounts. In the next few weeks, we’ll release a tool so you can check if you liked or followed an IRA-controlled account.

Security isn’t a problem you ever fully solve. Organizations like the IRA are sophisticated adversaries who are constantly evolving, but we’ll keep improving our techniques to stay ahead, especially when it comes to protecting the integrity of elections.

Mark Zuckerberg

NCAA orders Ethiopian Airlines to stop collection of unauthorised charges

The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has ordered Ethiopian Airlines to stop the collection of  unauthorized charges forthwith.

The order was contained in a statement signed by Mr Sam Adurogboye, NCAA General Manager, Public Relations, on Sunday in Lagos.

Adurogboye said these unauthorised charges referred to as” refundable deportation fee” is put at between 75 dollars  and 150 dollars.

According to him, all South Africa bound passengers on Ethiopian Airlines are compelled to pay this amount before boarding.

He noted that the authority had been inundated with several complaints from many passengers that have suffered this fate.

NCAA

“According to investigation by NCAA, all outbound passengers to South Africa from Murtala Mohammed International Airport, (MMIA), Lagos and Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu, transiting through Addis Ababa, are liable to pay 75 dollars.

“However, if your transiting time is 24 hours or beyond, the passenger will pay 150 dollars.

“While passengers are not given prior notice concerning these charges before arriving at the airports, some were made to sign undertaken to be responsible for all expenses incurred if deported,” Adurogboye said.

He said consequent upon this, the Ethiopian Airlines’ Country management were summoned by NCAA, where they claimed the fees were always refunded when a passenger was not deported.

Adurogboye said the regulatory authority however found this unacceptable and viewed it as a violation of the its extant regulations.

“The Nigerian Civil Aviation Regulations (NCARs) Part 18.4.1(iii) stipulates that “all air carriers should obtain approval from the authority to introduce or increase add-on charges or surcharges prior to implementation.

“Till date, the authority has not received any request for fare increase, tariff or add-ons from the airline.

“On this strength, Ethiopian Airlines has been ordered to stop with immediate effect these illegal charges,” he said.

Adurogboye noted that the Airline could take advantage of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Regulations (Nig.CAR) and obtain necessary approvals from the Authority if it has genuine grounds to increase fares or obtain tariffs.

The spokesman said :”the NCAA hereby warns all operating airlines to endeavour to adhere to the regulations in all facets of their operations.

“It is part of our statutory responsibilities to protect the rights of passengers and this we shall continue to do in accordance to the law.” (NAN)

Source: NTA

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