Gas Flaring in the Niger Delta

Topics: Natural gas, Petroleum, Greenhouse gas Pages: 19 (7281 words) Published: September 5, 2013

Abstract Nigeria flares 17.2 billion m3 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 disease. Even though oil has become the center 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 paper examines the potential benefits of a gas flaring reduction on the local economy and environment, including the projected benefits of utilizing associated gas. Also, the carbon monoxide level of ambient air was collected at four villages, and other emissions related to flaring evaluated through related research. The results show that the reduction of gas flaring can improve human health and the environment. This paper concludes that the 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. Introduction Nigeria flares 17.2 billion3 m of natural gas per year in conjunction with the exploration of crude oil in the Niger Delta (GGFR 2002). This high level of gas flaring is equal to approximately one quarter of the current power consumption of the African continent (GGFR 2002). This problem has been produced by a range of international oil companies which have been in operation for over four decades (Africa News Service 2003). The economic and environmental ramifications of this high level of gas flaring are serious because this process is a significant waste of potential fuel which is simultaneously polluting water, air, and soil in the Niger Delta. In this paper, I show how a reduction of gas flaring could benefit the local economy and the environment in Nigeria. As a visitor I was shocked to watch the endless burning of this gas 24 hours a day. Even though we have grown to be fairly dependent on oil and it has become the center of current industrial development and economic activities, we rarely consider how oil exploration and exploitation processes create environmental, health, and social problems in local communities near oil producing fields (where I call “oil producing communities” in the rest of this paper) (O’Rourke and Connolly 2003). For this reason, I hope that this study helps us, as oil users, to be more aware of the actual costs of oil production and to more actively seek corporate accountability in oil-producing communities There are various reasons for the continuous gas flaring. From a political perspective, as Michael Watts (2001) said “In Nigeria, oil became the basis for important forms of political mobilization,” in which petro-capital became the cause of political violence against those advocating environmental justice or compensation for the costs of ecological degradation. The Nigerian government has not enforced environmental regulations effectively because of the overlapping and conflicting jurisdiction1 of separate governmental agencies governing petroleum and the environment as well

as because of non-transparent governance mechanisms (Kaldany 2001, GGFR 2002). Neither the Federal Environmental Protection Agency (FEPA) nor the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) has implemented antiflaring policies for natural gas waste from oil production, nor have they monitored the emissions to ensure compliance with 1 Since 1988, the Federal Environmental Protection Agency (FEPA) has had the authority to issue standards for water, air and land pollution and has had the authority to make regulations for oil industry. However, in...

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