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|'Gas Flaring Is Illegal', Says Benin City High Court by Seun(m): 7:52pm On Nov 16, 2005|
BENIN CITY, 15 Nov 2005 (IRIN) - Issuing a landmark ruling that opens the way for compensation claims against oil conglomerates, a court in Nigeria has declared the flaring of natural gas illegal.
Justice C. V. Nwokorie, of the high court of Benin City, ruled on Monday that toxic flares that burn off natural gases, a by-product of oil extraction, contravened provisions of the Nigerian constitution guaranteeing citizens the right to life and human dignity.
He was ruling in a case brought against oil giant Royal Dutch Shell by the Iwerekan community of the Niger Delta.
Shell, which controls nearly half of the country’s oil production capacity, and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), immediately issued notice of an appeal. They have one month to challenge the ruling.
If it stands, it could open the way for residents of the oil-rich Niger Delta to sue the oil companies, Chima Williams one of the lawyers representing the local community that brought the case to court, told IRIN.
“Under Nigerian law, the parties who suffer from the violation of a law can seek damages or compensation,” Williams said.
The giant flares that pump clouds of black toxic smoke into the skies of the Niger Delta contribute more greenhouse gas emissions than any other single source in sub-Saharan Africa, according to environmentalists Friends of the Earth.
The Iwerekan community in Delta State was supported in its case by Environmental Rights Action, Friends of the Earth Nigeria, and the Climate Justice Programme.
Delta residents say the flares, which have been burning since oil production began in the 1950s, have seriously harmed the environment.
Domestic animals and wildlife are disoriented by the constant flares as they are unable to tell the difference between day and night, while crop yields have been damaged by consequent acid rain, they say.
But even if the appeal against the ruling is thrown out, gas flaring cannot be stopped without billions of dollars and several years worth of further investment.
Nine years ago, the government set a 12-year target to end gas flaring and most oil companies have said they are on track to meet the 2008 deadline - bar the largest producer, Shell.
Don Boham, spokesman for Shell, said the company and its Nigerian partners have invested US $2 billion in the last five years in projects aimed at putting the flared gas into economic use. A further expenditure of US $1.85 billion will enable Shell to end all gas flaring in its operations by 2009, a year later than the government target, he said.
Boham blamed the Nigerian government for the delay as it had failed to meet its funding obligations in the joint venture with Shell.
“The original target date… was predicated on the joint venture programme being fully funded to deliver the required gas-gathering projects. This was not achieved,” said Boham.
For the first 40 years of oil production in Nigeria, all natural gas occurring in the course of oil production was simply burned away because oil companies were discouraged by the huge investments required to harness the gas.
While revenues estimated at over US $2.5 billion yearly were lost through flaring, this also became a major source of conflict with oil communities that complained of being cheated out of the oil wealth produced on their land while being left simultaneously to suffer the environmental consequences.
In the past decade, investments have been made to utilise the wasted gas, which is reputed to be a cleaner energy source than crude oil.
In September, work began on the West Africa Gas Pipeline which will transport Nigerian natural gas from the oil fields of the Niger Delta along the coast to Ghana, via Benin and Togo, promising cheaper and more reliable power for millions of residents by the end of 2006.
|Re: 'Gas Flaring Is Illegal', Says Benin City High Court by SEGUN2003(m): 11:28pm On Nov 16, 2005|
Hello, I can't believe that we have still got all this gas flaring in Nigeria. Why can't all this gas companies use this gas commercially. I live here in Brazil which is an underdeveloped country too, therefore equal to Nigeria, but has got the technology of the first world in this area. My car here, use GAS (GNV) Vehicle Natural Gas. Million of cars use Gas here in Brazil (especially the TAXIS) because they are 70% less than gasoline/petrol. Most of the companies here use GAS to run thier plants. A lot of houses use piped Gas. So it's time our government start creating jobs for our people by implementing these type of job creating projects rather than plan only how to steal our money.
|Re: 'Gas Flaring Is Illegal', Says Benin City High Court by Seun(m): 12:58am On Nov 17, 2005|
The oil companies apparently don't want to invest in the equipment that wil enable them to take advantage of the gas. This is simply because the government has failed to crack down on the practice. A deadline has already been set for oil companies in Nigeria to stop gas flaring, but the Gorverment could just extend it again when it expires.
|Re: 'Gas Flaring Is Illegal', Says Benin City High Court by Jakumo(m): 7:05am On Nov 17, 2005|
Seun that court ruling declaring gas flaring illegal is one of the most beneficial rulings to come out of a Nigerian court in living memory. The environmental damage caused by 24-hour gas flaring has continued unabated for decades in the Niger Delta, and in the meantime most of rural Nigeria depends on firewood and the resultant deforestation to cook food.
Once those compensation lawsuits start to pile up against the oil multinationals in the Niger Delta, the technical and financial obstacles to installing a nationwide gas pipeline grid will evaporate in a heartbeat, Nigeria's precious forest reserves will be given a new lease of life, and the suffocating smog and acid rain currently killing the Niger Delta will be a thing of the past. This is, at last, some great news from Nigeria
|Re: 'Gas Flaring Is Illegal', Says Benin City High Court by SEGUN2003(m): 8:56am On Nov 17, 2005|
one thing I srill can't understand is why do many Nigerians insist on using wood/tree branches to cook? Isn't it better and easier to buy and use gas in Nigeria, Nigeria having so much gas to waste?
|Re: 'Gas Flaring Is Illegal', Says Benin City High Court by nferyn(m): 11:12am On Nov 17, 2005|
What exactly will be the effect of the ruling?
Are there fines imposed on the oil companies that still continue flaring gas?
If so, how are these fines collected?
In short, what will be the effect on the ground?
|Re: 'Gas Flaring Is Illegal', Says Benin City High Court by Seun(m): 11:30am On Nov 17, 2005|
The oil companies will challenge the ruling on the basis that the Federal Government's flaring deadline is yet to expire, and they'll probably win. Even if that happens, they will be less likely to miss the 2008 deadline.
|Re: 'Gas Flaring Is Illegal', Says Benin City High Court by otokx(m): 12:37pm On Nov 19, 2005|
that rulling will be quashed by the conspirators.
|Re: 'Gas Flaring Is Illegal', Says Benin City High Court by aiku(m): 6:32am On Dec 15, 2005|
I think this is a good news for all nigerians and for the niger deltans in particular. a judicial precedent has just been set that will go a long way in leting the oil companies know that some people still have what it takes to question their illegal and inhuman method of oil exploration. whatever the outcome of the appeal, it is still a good thing. like seun says, it will atleast, make oil companies expedite their actions in meeting the 2008 deadline
|Re: 'Gas Flaring Is Illegal', Says Benin City High Court by tartar9(m): 3:22pm On Jan 10|
Before buhari was born there was no gas flaring,but after buhari was born we now have gas flaring everywhere even in the oil rigs
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