Bayelsa Community, Environmentalists Decry Intensified Gas Flaring At Shell’s Facility

Residents of Gbarantoru Community in Yenagoa Local Government Area of Bayelsa State and some environmentalists have expressed concerns over intensified gas flaring in the locality.

The gas flaring is from a facility operated by the Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) in the area.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the gas processing facility feeds the Nigeria Liquified Natural Gas (NLNG) export hub in Bonny, Rivers.

Residents within the neighbourhood of the facility expressed shock over the sudden upswing of massive gas furnace close to homes in the community.

They said that it was absurd that Shell was intensifying gas flaring when other operators like TotalEnergies had recently ended gas flaring in its operations.

Mrs Patricia Ebi, a resident, said that that she was surprised at the increased flares and emissions of gas in the neighbourhood which threatened the quality of air inhaled by people who reside in the area.

”The thick smoke is an indication that the combustion is not complete and therefore emission of toxins that pollute the air and compromise the human respiratory systems here.

”It is also an irony, that at a time we cannot afford to buy cooking gas, same gas is being flared and wasted, polluting the environment”, she said.

Another resident, Ibenewari Gregory, said that the operators of the gas processing plant had not deemed it fit to update residents on the ongoing operations.

”Shell has not come to talk to anybody before flaring this gas, the flare which has gone on for days without respite is a threat to public health here”, he said.

Meanwhile, Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF), an environmental rights focused group on Tuesday reacted to the development in a statement by its Executive Director, Dr Nnimmo Bassey.

Bassey said that HOMEF considered the activity of Shell as contravening the fundamental right to life and dignity of the people of Gbarantoru and their neighbours, as specified under sections 33 and 34 of the amended 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

He said this was as affirmed by a High Court ruling in November 2005 in the case of Jonah Gbemre against Shell.

Bassey further said that the flaring of gas was pervasive in the Niger Delta, and was a harmful and wasteful practice.

He said that gas flaring was a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions responsible for climate change.

According to him, the impact of gas flaring on the health of community people, their ecosystems, biodiversity, aquatic resources, agricultural production, livelihood sources, as well as the larger Nigerian economy is deleterious.

He regretted that the World Bank figures of between 2013 and 2019, which stated that about 319.48 million standard cubic feet of gas was flared into Nigeria’s environment amounted to a waste of 1,08 billion dollars.

”This is without a cost to the amount of pollution caused between 2020 and the first two months of 2024.

”So about 595.1 million standard cubic feet of gas has been flared in nine Niger Delta states, cumulatively amounting to another waste of 1.9 billion dollars and more damages to the environment,” Bassey said.

The environmentalist quoted residents of the community as saying that the intensified flaring which had gone on for more than one week was causing havoc and damages to the people of Gbarantoru, health wise, as well as causing noise pollution and government to come to their aid.

He said that the people requested relocation of the occupants of all the buildings, as houses were vibrating, windows shaking, children scared, and no way to sleep at night; heat all over.

However, when contacted, officials of the SPDC declined to speak on the development.

Requests for comments on the reports by SPDC host community residents to the energy firm have yet to get a response.

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