THE HISTORICAL EVALUATION OF THE IMPACT OF GAS FLARING IN NIGER-DELTA REGION


Content

ABSTRACT

Nigeria flares l7.2bn cm of natural gas per year in conjunction with the exploration of crude oil in the Niger Delta. This gas flaring expends huge amounts of energy and causes environmental degradation and diseases. A situation seriously prone to a devastating effect of climate change havoc and negative implications. Even though oil has become the Centre of current industrial development and economic activities, the links between oil exploration and exploitation processes and the incumbent environmental health, and social problems in oil producing communities are not well known. This work is also deep in examining the potential benefits of a gas flaring reduction on the local economy, environment, and the projected benefits of utilizing associated gas.

The study adopts primary and secondary data. The primary data utilizes materials from four villages, the Use of oral face to face interview on some key informants of five (5) Environmental Rights activists, two (2) International Lawyers, five (5) Political Scientists, six (6) Historians, four (4) oil workers and three (3) oil firms executives. The study uses analytical, historical and descriptive approach to arriving at its results. The instrument of the research is in-depth interview method.

The study affirmed from that carbon monoxide level of ambient air exists in many communities, especially as noted in the four villages, showing that emissions related to flaring was high. The study also revealed that the reduction of gas flaring can improve human health and the environment coupled to the growing climate change consequences. The work noted that despite the havoc caused on the environment, the Nigerian state dependent on only oil, a mono-economy, without utilizing the gas waste stands out to affects the country's earnings.

Conclusively, the study shows that local livelihood in the Niger delta can be significantly improved by promoting a shift from flaring the associated gas to collecting it for use as a gaseous fuel and for electricity generation. Although political feasibility poses a significant hurdle, economic and energy initiatives need to be strongly integrated with other policies that promote development.


TABLE OF CONTENTS

CHAPTER ONE

Introduction

General Background and Statement of Study Objective of Study

Significance of Study

Research Methodology

Scope of Study

Limitation of Study

Operationalization of Concepts

 

CHAPTER TWO

Literature Review

The Concept of Flaring and the Environment

Niger Delta and Gas Flaring: Why?

 

CHAPTER THREE

Historical Overview

The Origin and Causes of Gas Flaring in Niger Delta

Investigation of Gas Flaring in Selected Communities

The effects of Gas Flaring on Niger Delta

 

CHAPTER FOUR

General Analysis

Gas Flaring in Niger Delta and the Immediate Environment

The General Implications of Gas Flaring in Niger Delta

 

CHAPTER FIVE

Conclusion and Recommendation

Summary of Findings Recommendation

Conclusion

Bibliography

 CHAPTER ONE

GENERAL INTRODUCTION

 

1.0     INTRODUCTION

This study introduces the incidence of gas flaring with its consequence effects on the human health, environmental degradation and natural habitats in the region. The work informed that over 2,215 villages cum communities in the Niger Delta pass through the horrors and degradation imposed by gas flaring on the environment as seen below. These destructions not minding its devastating effects also affect the general economy of the Nigerian state. A game both international and national government had reluctantly seen as an admissible fact, pains on the inhabitants, people and problem associated to a failed economy, failed state and awful deceit of governance to the mass public. These are concisely discussed in the sections that follow, especially in the general background and statement of problem and other sections.

 

1.1     GENERAL BACKGROUND AND STATEMENT OF PROBLEM

Nigeria is a country that is endowed with quiet a number of natural resources as well as human resources. Some of the key resources found in the Nigerian environment (soil) are limestone, bauxite, bronze, oil and gas, copper, natural, forest and resources such as wild life amongst others.

Unfortunately, among these enormous resources, only crude oil is being harness over the years. There are also a lot of petroleum products being derived from the crude, amongst, which are the premier motor spirit (P.M.S), the diesel (Agro), kerosene (DPK), low poor fuel oil (Lpfo), high poor fuel oil (Hpfo) amongst others. Gas resources in the same vein has been in its large quantity of over 4Otrillion cubic feet as Nigerian reserves, begging for exploitation and proper utilization. Its existing quantity had also caused gas flaring over the years with the attendant effect on the immediate environment where the resources are located (Niger Delta).

Nowhere in the world have communities been subjected to gas flaring on such a scale. It is estimated to cost Nigeria US $7.5 billion annually whilst the roaring, toxic flares affect the health and livelihood of Delta inhabitants. It is estimated that 66% of Nigerians live below poverty level. Gas Flare contributes significantly to climate change, thus affecting communities all over the world. With Nigeria per capita GNP lower than at independence, they are an appalling waste of resources that the country cannot afford.

The Niger Delta region is an area of dense mangrove rainforest in the southern part of Nigeria It comprises nine out of the thirty six states in Nigeria. The states include: Abia, Akwa lbom, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Edo, Imo, Ondo and Rivers. The region accounts for about 40 different ethnic groups speaking 250 dialects spread across 5,000 communities.

MAP OF THE NIGER DELTA STATES

The region's oil accounts for approximately 90 percent of the value of Nigeria's crude oil production and exports, but remains one of the least developed regions in Nigeria and the world in general. The region also has a steadily growing population estimated to be over 45 million people as of 2005, accounting for more than 33% of Nigeria's total population. The population density is also among the highest in the world with 265 people per kilometer square, which is growing at the rapid rate of 3% per year.

The traditional economic activities of the people in this region are fishing and subsistence farming, with supplements from a wide variety of forest products but presently, the lands are no longer productive as a result of oil spills, leakages, and effects of gas flaring and other ecologically related accidents.

Historically, gas flaring began simultaneously with oil extraction in the 1960s by Shell-BP. Although, the British government subsequently acknowledged that the flaring was unacceptable, it was allowed to continue without any real efforts to change infrastructure and prevent the waste of the gas. This is in contrast to Britain's policies on gas flaring in their own territory, where gas flaring has been reduced to a minimum.

In fact, in the Western Europe 99% of the associated gas is used or injected into the ground. Gas flaring is generally discouraged and condemned by the international community, as it contributes greatly to climate change. Which ironically can display its most devastating effects in developing countries like Nigeria, and particularly in the semi-arid Sahel regions of the sub-Saharan Africa? The Niger Delta's low -lying plains are also quite vulnerable as they lie only a few meters above sea level.

The practice of gas flaring as it has been allowed since oil production began under British, has become set in stone, and would be costly to overhaul to reduce flaring. As a result, little is done by oil companies. This is in spite of the fact that gas flaring in Nigeria has technically been illegal since 1984 under section 3 of the "Associated Gas Re-injection Act.

The Niger Delta territory and environment provides the highest number, concentration and intensity of gas flaring in the world. The statistics of economic loss and injury brought about by gas flaring is mind bogging.

The Presence and operations of the petroleum companies is pervasive, invasive and almost suffocating, in the Niger Delta. It control and curtails the lives and survival options of the people of that region. With the increase of the downstream and upstream activities in the Oil/Gas Companies, the pollution of the Niger Delta has reached a dangerous dimension, which in this respect is a great problem affecting the people and all kind of life in the creek and land.

Years of petroleum production in the Coastal States have rendered lands, unproductive, poisoned the waters and forests, while Gas flaring has rendered the environment generally inhabitable. The health hazards to which the peoples of the Coastal States are subjected to as a result of Oil/Gas activities cannot be fully document in the project. Hence, this research endeavour to finding out the problematic underpin of the issue of gas flaring against the lives of the people, the economic and environment.

The International Community, the Niger Delta States/Communities and various human right groups have critically study the problems of gas flaring and its effects to the people of the Niger - Delta in order to help stop gas flaring and develop the communities. The reason, this project also puts inquiry on.

 

1.2     OBJECTIVE OF STUDY

This research project, which is basically designed to unfold the problems of gas flaring in the Niger - Delta is loaded with several objectives. More specifically the study pursues the following objectives:

(i)     To examine the effects of gas flaring on the Niger Delta environment.

(ii)    To find out the damage of gas flaring to the economy of the Niger Delta and Nigeria.

(iii)   To examine human response on the problem of gas in the Niger Delta regions.

(iv)   To assess the impact of gas flaring in Niger Delta and the lives of the people.

(v)    To provide measures on how gas flaring can be stopped in the Niger Delta.

 

1.3     SIGNIFCANCE OF STUDY

The study is significance in several ways, amongst which are:

Firstly, to review the characteristics and scale of gas flaring in Nigeria and efforts to solve it. Economic, technological as well as institutional and political issues will be addressed, with emphasis on the factors that represent obstacles and opportunities for a solution.

Secondly, examination of the potential role of various national and international bodies and funding mechanisms to play a role in bringing the issue forward towards a solution.

Thirdly, gas Flaring pollution has caused serious health problems to the Niger Delta Communities, their water, land, farms, and air has also be polluted by gas flaring.

Fourthly, the unfolding tragedy of the Niger Delta, is that those who control, manage and exploit its petroleum resources, that is, the oil companies and those in control of the Federal Government, are far away from the Niger Delta.

Fifthly, the study in its intent tends to extend the frontier of knowledge, while adding volume to the numerous literatures on gas flaring in the Niger Delta and elsewhere in the world.

Sixthly, the study closes the gap on literature on the issue of gas flaring, it devious effect on the society and environmental hazard experienced by those living in the coastal line with attendant diseases and infinities.

Finally, food security is at risk from declines in agricultural production and uncertain climate in the Niger Delta.

 

1.4     RESEARCH METHODOLOGY

The research adopts primary and secondary sources of data. The primary data utilizes oral face-to-face interview method to interview some key informants from the selected six communities of Ebocha-Egbema, Oboma, Bomadi, Patani, Rumuekpe and Okpoloma among others. The study also interview some Human Rights environmentalist, Friends of Earth link group, Lawyers and government officials. The research instrument is in-depth interview method.

On the secondary data, the study sourced information from CD ROM, library archival methods which includes textbooks, articles, journals, internet browsing, magazines, newspapers and conference papers and unpublished works.

The study utilizes descriptive, evaluative and documentary method to arriving at its goal.

 

1.5     LIMITATION OF RESEARCH STUDY

The project experienced a lot of limitations, which includes poor fmancial base. In furtherance to this, there was a grossly delayed in the early completion of the work due to academic unless and strike. The crisis in the Niger Delta and the fear of pirates and militant actually did not allow the investigation to flow as expected. Library attendant also did not help in the process of gathering information owing to attitudinal behavour and fear of the unknown. The research was also faced with other logistics problem like unhealthy academic system and general problem of insecurity in the creeks of the Niger Delta.

 

1.6     THE SCOPE OF STUDY

The scope of this study is restricted to a period of 10 years, which is from 2000 to 2010. The scope is to enable the detailed coverage of gas flaring problem since its operation in the Niger Delta.

1.7     OPERATIONALISATION OF CONCEPT

POLLUTION: This is the damage done to the air and water in the Niger Delta by through the incidence of gas flaring.

GAS: It is a substance that is emitted into the air or into water. It is otherwise poisonous

GAS FLARING: This is when the emitted substance into the air or water carries a poisonous or air borne diseases to attack living being.

GREENHOUSE EMISSION: It is when air is affect by the trapped emission that causes pollution or global warming.

CLIMATE CHANGE: This is the resultant effects gas flaring, environmental distortion, deforestation amongst others that affect plants, human temperature thereof generating heat and other effects on the earth surface.

BLACK CLOUD: This is the thick black smoke - colour that gas flaring cause in the environment of gas flaring.

CHRONIC BBRONCHITIS: This is the infection emanating from the inhaling of polluted air, smoke and gaseous substance from gas flaring. Such inhaling affects lungs and human breathing system.

LEGISLATIONS: These are laws made by the lawmakers to curb gas flaring and other environmental destruction in Niger Delta.

OIL SPILL: This is when oil leakage is not control. It might degenerate into spill to cause to the environment.

GLOBAL WARMING: This is the increase in temperature due to the excessive heat of gas flaring into the atmosphere.

OIL PRODUCTION: The process of producing crude oil from the earth surface by way of drilling.

DESTRUCTION: This is the damage cause by gas flaring on crops, habitats and even human being.



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