Gas Flaring in Niger Delta

The persistent flaring of gas in the Niger Delta region is causing untold damage to the environment as well as the health of the people. Therefore a call has been made for the umpteenth time for the Federal Government of Nigeria to end gas flaring in the Niger Delta communities.

Several environmentalists both within and outside the country have continued to make this clarion call on the government but it seems the government is not taking the issue of gas flaring in the Niger Delta seriously.

One of such notable environmentalist is Nnimmo Bassey, who said it was worrisome that the Federal Government has not shown any seriousness to its promise in ending gas-flaring in the country by 2020.

The environmentalist spoke yesterday in Port Harcourt at a dialogue on gas-flaring in Nigeria organised by Chima Williams and Associates in collaboration with Public Interest Lawyering Initiative for West Africans and Green Alliance Nigeria with support from Advocates for Community Alternatives.

Williams, who recalled that during the 2016 United Nations (UN) climate change conference in Morocco, President Muhammadu Buhari promised that the Federal Government would end gas-flaring by 2020, said: “I believe that the President was honest when he made that promise in Marrakech, Morocco, in November 2016 that the government would do everything within its power to end gas-flaring in 2020. We want to remind him and equally ask him to fulfill that promise.”

He insisted that ending gas-flaring was possible now considering that the Minister of State for Petroleum, Timipreye Sylva, hails from the region where the impact of gas flaring was overwhelming.

Mr. Nnimmo Bassey

“Again, we have a son of the soil as Minister of State for Petroleum who knows a lot about the impacts of gas-flaring in our communities because he sees them even in his own community, to help talk to the president to do everything possible to end it.

“This is also a clarion call for us to mobilise our voices to support the President and his government to end gas flaring even this year. It is doable with technology. It only needs somebody to push these oil companies to be willing to do it.”

Williams added that the workshop was aimed at unanimously compelling the government within the ambit of the law to end gas flaring in Nigeria.

Also, veteran environmentalist, Bassey, who is also the Director, Health of Mother Earth Foundation, urged the Federal Government to ensure oil and gas exploration companies in Nigeria install metering facilities in oil fields to ascertain the quantity of gas produced as well as flared, so that they can pay for any amount of gas flared into the environment.

Bassey said: “The problem of gas-flaring has been lingering for over 60 years and from the late 70s, the government realised that they had to stop it. The first terminal date was January 1, 1984, when President Muhammadu Buhari was then a Military Head of State. Since that time, gas-flaring has been illegal but we still have flaring going on.

“To know how much oil and gas is extracted from Nigeria, we need the Federal Government to sit up and insist that there must be proper metering in the oil and gas fields so that anyone who flares gas would pay for the commercial quantity of what is being flared.

“Knowing how much gas flared is simply to install all the metres and the oil and gas exploration companies have been resisting this according to what we heard from the Department of Petroleum Resources.”