News / Africa

Nigeria Mulls Gas Flare Crackdown

An unidentified woman carries her tapioca after drying it near a gas flare belonging to the Shell oil company in Utorogun, Nigeria, March 5, 2006 (file photo).An unidentified woman carries her tapioca after drying it near a gas flare belonging to the Shell oil company in Utorogun, Nigeria, March 5, 2006 (file photo).
x
An unidentified woman carries her tapioca after drying it near a gas flare belonging to the Shell oil company in Utorogun, Nigeria, March 5, 2006 (file photo).
An unidentified woman carries her tapioca after drying it near a gas flare belonging to the Shell oil company in Utorogun, Nigeria, March 5, 2006 (file photo).
Heather Murdock
BAYELSA STATE, Nigeria — Officials in Nigeria say new laws are expected to pass this year banning dangerous gas flares that are damaging the country's environment and health and wasting natural resources.  People in the oil-and gas-producing Niger Delta say the flares have been making people sick for decades, but past bans on the practice have largely been ineffective.
 
By day, gas flares in the Niger Delta—constantly burning flames atop large metal pipes—are an eerie reminder of the waste and pollution associated with the oil industry in Nigeria.  By night, locals say the flares are so bright in some places they fear it damages their eyes.  
 
Felix Fawei is a community leader in a remote area of the oil-rich Niger Delta, where fishing villages on the rivers and creeks are only accessible by boat and most people have no access to electricity.

"There are so many flares around," said Fawei.  "So even sometimes you see that the water is very bright, but this area is very dark, because of this excess of flare."

The flares emit poisonous chemicals that make people sick and damage the farming and fishing industries.  Fawei says the flares cause acid rain, cancer and a host of respiratory problems.
 
Flaring also wastes natural gas which could otherwise help power Africa's most populous country.  Nigeria's BusinessDay newspaper reports $1 billion is lost yearly by burning gas that could otherwise be sold.

This map shows gas flare activity around Nigeria as of July 3, 2012.This map shows gas flare activity around Nigeria as of July 3, 2012.
x
This map shows gas flare activity around Nigeria as of July 3, 2012.
This map shows gas flare activity around Nigeria as of July 3, 2012.
Oil companies say they flare off the gas because instability and lack of infrastructure make it hard to use it productively.

Indutimi Komonibo, special adviser on oil and gas to the governor of Bayelsa State, says it's not just Nigeria that is suffering from flaring, and that the whole world should be concerned.

"Gas flaring causes climate change, ozone layer depletion.  Even the soot that is released into the environment causes a lot of disaster," Komonibo noted.
 
Komonibo says by the end of the year new legislation in Nigeria is expected to permanently ban flaring.  But activist groups say the practice was banned first in 1969 and again 10 years later.  Even this year, a Nigerian judge declared flaring illegal, saying it is a violation of the people's rights.
 
Activist group "Justice in Nigeria Now" says for decades oil companies have been paying nominal fines to circumvent bans.
 
The World Bank says gas flaring accounts for a third of Nigeria's carbon emissions and about 1.2 percent of carbon emissions worldwide.  Nigeria is second only to Russia in terms of the volume of gas flared off yearly.  
 
Nigeria is also second only to Russia in terms of the reduction of flaring between 2005 and 2010.  Royal Dutch Shell, the largest oil company in Nigeria says it has reduced flaring by 60 percent over the past nine years.
 
Activist group Environmental Rights Action, however, says the numbers are skewed and demand the immediate shutdown of oil platforms that still flare.

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Chris Kandrat
July 09, 2012 2:15 PM
Should of seen it earlier, it is a huge problem far as carbon which is not helping the climate change situation.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs