Every year, millions of dollars are literally going up in smoke in Nigeria, Africas top crude oil-exporting nation; companies infact usually burn off unwanted natural gas released during oil production.
This flaring and venting produces more greenhouse-gas emissions than any other single source in South Saharian Africa, and many who live in oil-producing communities complain about chronic health and environmental problems associated with the gas flares.
Much of the Nigerian region where oil is pumped is a maze of winding mangrove creeks and waterways. Leafy, green and humid, Ebocha-Egbema is an unremarkable collection of small villages with tin-roof houses and shops, located in the heart of the Rivers State in Nigerias turbulent oil-producing Niger Delta.
Huge flames billow in the air over Ebocha, and above them, black clouds leap into the sky. The giant gas flares operated by Agip-Nigeria belch out noxious fumes that loom over homes, farms and shops. Theres a strange smell and an audible hiss in the air.
Residents of the Niger Delta region, where Ebocha is located, say gas flaring is ruining lives and livelihoods.
Despite these complains, Agip continue to flare gas in the area. Their operation has truncated the livelihoods of the local people, and diseases such as Asthma, Bronchitis, Cancer and other respiratory track diseases are wide spread in the area, and adjourning communities.
According to the Nigerian Nation Petroleum Corporation annual Bulletin report (2010), Agip owns 15 oil wells in Ebocha, about 642,539 barrels of oil is produced and about 65% of associated gas is flared.
Environmental justice organisations and other supporters
Environmental Rights Action, Oilwatch Nigeria
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)
HIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
When did the mobilization begin
Farmers Indigenous groups or traditional communities Informal workers Landless peasants Neighbours/citizens/communities Social movements Trade unions Women Fisher people
Forms of Mobilization
Development of a network/collective action Involvement of national and international NGOs Land occupation Media based activism/alternative media Official complaint letters and petitions Street protest/marches Occupation of buildings/public spaces Appeals/recourse to economic valuation of the environment
Visible: Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Food insecurity (crop damage), Noise pollution Potential: Fires, Global warming, Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Soil erosion, Oil spills, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality
Visible: Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Infectious diseases Potential: Deaths, Other environmental related diseases
Visible: Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Loss of landscape/sense of place Potential: Violations of human rights, Land dispossession
Pathways for conflict outcome / response
Migration/displacement Negotiated alternative solution Under negotiation
Development of Alternatives
Agip and the Nigerian Government must put and end to gas flaring in Ebocha and other Niger Delta Communities.
Do you consider this as a success?
Why? Explain briefly.
Despite complains from the community, Agip continues to flare gas in the area. Their operation has truncated the livelihoods of the local people, and diseases such as Asthma, Bronchitis, Cancer and other respiratory track diseases are wide spread in the area, and adjourning communities.
Sources and Materials
Report Il Delta dei Veleni and Video doc Oil for Nothing - Re:Common (Italian and English) [click to view]
Annual Statistical Bulletin: A publication of Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation, 2010.
Oil is a mainstay of Nigerias economy, and the government acknowledges that the oil industry still flares 24 billion cubic meters of gas a year, enough to power a good portion of Africa for a whole year.
Despite its oil wealth, Nigeria itself suffers chronic energy shortages. The gas is often burned right next door to homes that dont have electricity, and while theres a local market for the natural gas vented during oil production, its less profitable than crude oil. Critics warn that not enough is being done to put out flares or save gas that could be harvested and used within the country.