Gas flares, oil spills worsen climate change in Niger Delta communities — Property — The Guardian Nigeria News – Nigeria and World News
The oil-rich Niger Delta region continues to suffer from the devastating effects of gas flaring and oil spills caused by the operations of multinational corporations.
The development is causing concern among communities, who appear to be concerned about their survival in the region.
Some manifestations of the climate change crisis triggered by gas flaring and oil spills are the disappearance of wildlife, fish in rivers, creeks and freshwater of the Delta, excessive heat, shrinking vegetation, especially farm trees such as palm trees, oranges, mangoes, pears, plantain and banana .
A recent visit to Kwale, a community in Delta State’s Ndokwa West Council, revealed that the area surrounded by about 10 torch racks owned by oil companies such as the Nigeria Agip Oil Company (NAOC), Pillar Oil Limited, Energia Oil Limited Mid-Western Oil Limited, Sterling Global Limited’s liquefied gas plant, has evolved into a kind of blast furnace.
Residents hardly sleep due to the unbearable heat from the flaring and hydrocarbon emissions in the five neighborhoods of the city, also called Utgaba-Ogbe, namely: Umusadege, Umeseti, Umusam, Isumpe and Umusideri.
Their neighbors in Lagos-Ogbe, Ogbe-Ani, Ebendo, Obodo-Ugwa, Benekuku, Aboh and Ushie in the Ndokwa East Council, as well as their counterparts in Aradhe, Ellu and Ovrode in the Isoko North Council, which host communities for several oil wells, suffer similar environmental degradation .
A resident of Kwale, who also serves as former Utagba-Ogbe District 3 councilor, Chief Okpor Ezeukwu, expressed concern that Kwale was being affected by the oil companies’ activities.
Ezeukwu told the Guardian in an emotional voice that Kwale residents are dying by the hundreds, while life expectancy is now under 60 years.
He said despite the oil wealth and the numerous businesses operating in the community, neglect has encouraged criminal activity among youth in the area.
He noted that the history of oil exploration in Kwale dates back to 1960-61, when Agip began drilling oil in the area about four years after oil was first discovered in Oloibiri, Bayelsa state in 1956. He added that the oil discovered in the community was used to track the Nigerian Civil War between 1967-1970.
He said Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) ceded its Oil Mining Lease (OML) 60 to Sterling Global, while Elf ceded its OML 56 platform to Pillar The Kwale Block.
Describing the effects of oil flares and spills on the health of the community and its surroundings as very monumental, he stressed that despite the rain, the unbearable heat is so intense that most residents stay outside until midnight because they cannot sleep.
Ezeukwu said, “It is a very deplorable situation that we are in in Kwale. The oil companies smile with our oil wealth. Torches from the oil wells have heated up the environment so much that we hardly sleep. “
He added: “Cases of lung disease have been reported from inhalation of hydrocarbon emissions. Unfortunately, the recent Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) conducted in the community failed to capture anything that fueled speculation that the oil companies may have manipulated the EIA results to suit their whims. ”
Ezeukwu said the amount of oil extracted from the Ndokwa block is not properly recorded or tracked, adding that political leaders from the area were not doing enough to control the rape of the Ndokwa resources and to lure a larger development to Utagba-Ogbe.
He argued that a former Delta State House of Representatives Speaker Dr. Olisa Imegu, tried to draw government attention to the area, but the attempts could not attract higher level institutions, roads and other critical infrastructures.
According to him, Kwale, which was like the Yankarri Games Reserve at the time, with a very rich wildlife including elephants, buffalo, monkeys, bush pigs, giant tortoises, deer, porcupines, leopards, antelopes and grass cutters, has lost all of its rich resources.
“The animals must be extinct or have fled to friendlier surroundings. Hunters have disappeared from our communities because they stop catching game all night after the hunt, ”he said.
He said that people are mysteriously dying from high blood pressure every day now, adding that a professor recently died of circumstances related to cardiovascular challenges as a result of inhaling hydrocarbon emissions.
“The federal government needs to know that health is wealth and that what is good for the goose is good for the ganter. Kwale, where the oil and gas comes from, is grossly neglected. The health situation can never be overstretched. The state must provide hospitals and health facilities. The central hospital in Kwale is only in the building as there is a lack of nurses, doctors and functional equipment, so that health crises are referred to Warri, Oghara or Benin City in the state of Edo. ”
He also deplored the communal clashes between host communities, noting that the law extending the benefits of oil and gas reserves (if any) to communities up to 30 kilometers away from oil wells was a major cause for concern because the communities with oil and gas deposits always make the benefits of the resources their own. This undermines the community spirit and leads to violence, which often leads to loss of life.
“The government should do everything possible to stop the flares and the ruthless waste of the country’s gas resources with flares. If the gas flares and constant leaks don’t stop, we are headed for a major climate change crisis, ”he said.
A local farmer speaking to The Guardian, Mr Goodluck Agatefe, claimed that the effects of constant gas flaring and farm produce spills were still devastating in and around the community.
Agatefe said, “When I moved to Kwale in 1990, our sweet potatoes, cassava, plantains, bananas and even fruits like mangoes, oranges, pineapples and pears were some of the toughest in Delta state. In fact, Kwale used to be the food basket for Delta and the neighboring state of Anambra, but with oil activities continuing to pollute the environment, we rarely harvest good produce these days. The situation is getting worse from year to year, and as a result, agricultural products and the shortage of important food are dwindling. “
Maryanne Omakor, who trades fish on Ase Creek in Iselegu, Aboh, Ashaka, Igbuku and Ibrede, among others, complained that the quality and quantity of the fish that used to be available at the popular Eke market in Kwale has deteriorated and Income from the fish business was almost gone.
“The result is that fish shortages have led to high prices, so fish buyers in the Kwale area are now traveling to the states of Rivers and Bayelsa to explore alternative sources of fish supply, which usually results in higher prices,” added added that the situation is getting worse day by day with increasing spills and persistent gas flares, ”she said.
Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF) director Nnimmo Bassey, who spoke at the Oilfield / FishNet Dialogue in Gbarain, Bayelsa state, complained that several fish species are endangered and some are already extinct due to constant pollution.
He said: “The Niger Delta has multiple freshwater and marine ecosystems such as rivers, lakes, creeks and creeks. Before the onslaught of six decades of relentless oil spills, the Niger Delta was abundant in fish species in both freshwater and marine ecosystems. Today many of these fish species are endangered by the constant pollution and some are already threatened with extinction. “
To avert a major climate catastrophe made worse by gas flares and spills, a coalition of civil society organizations (CSOs) including Corporate Accountability, Friends of The Earth International, Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa (CAPPA), ActionAid, Global Campaign to Demand Climate Justice and Third World Network (TWN) recently organized, among other things, a zoom training course for African journalists. The experts advised that civil society, the media and governments should scrutinize “net zero” announcements (which Shell promotes vigorously) to assess whether they are committing to real action.
The group said: “We need to look beyond the slogans and expose attempts to use the term to mask, distract or delay real emissions reductions. Strict controls and pressure are required to make the necessary transformation to bring emissions down to zero and avoid climate chaos. “
“Planet earth is already breaking through so many ecological tipping points that a warming of more than 1.5 ° C could be included within the next 10 years. To truly do the hard work required to avoid a runaway climate catastrophe, the countries of the Global North and transnational corporations (TNCs) need to stop pollution quickly and have their annual emissions close to zero or real within a decade Lower zero. Protecting the climate for real zero requires deep reserves of courage to question the economic models, broken systems and the power of companies that underlie the climate and biodiversity crisis, ”they said.
In response to the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) as passed by the National Assembly, representatives from HOMEF, CAPPA, We The People and the Environmental Rights Action, Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA / FoEN) also set the legislator for the Consider carpeting gas flares construed as a waste of economic resources to be paid for, rather than an abuse that harms the climate, health and livelihoods of communities.
“The PIB does not set a specific expiry date, which gives the impression that the practice will continue indefinitely to the detriment of the host communities, who continue to bear the dangerous consequences. The PIB does not appear to be viewing Nigeria’s climate change commitments as included in Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs).
Other recommendations that have been promoted include “transforming energy systems away from centralized, company-controlled fossil fuels and other harmful technologies such as nuclear, mega-hydropower and biofuels to clean, safe systems that empower people and promote healthier communities.”