The ill effects of Gas Flaring – A call for Governmental Actions

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The term environment has a lot of connotation. It is indivisible and complex. It has social, economical and physical implications. The environment, is the collective term used to describe all the living and non-living things that makes up our surroundings (Nkwa, 2009). The relationship of human beings to their environment is reciprocal in that, the environment has a profound influence on them and they in turn, make extensive alterations to their environment to meet their needs and desires. One will also agree that environment is that interplay of force in the surrounding which may affect man positively or negatively.
However, in a more physical sense, the environment can be said to comprise of air, water and land. In whatever way we see the environment, it degradation through pollution or any other means is a matter of concern. Pollution occurs essentially when there are inputs of substances and or activities from natural or man-made sources leading to an increase in the level of such substances beyond their ambient level which consequently posses harmful effect on the environmental media viz, air, water and land etc. Where these substances occur and the health of living organism are endangered including man thus environment can be said to consist of three components physical, biological and social environment. In line with the foregoing, Environmental pollution can be defined as the process of reducing the air, water and land quality of our environment through human effort or activities which include domestic, agricultural, commercial and industrial activities (Ugchegbu, 2002). Environmental pollution knows no bound, it occurs anywhere in geographic space as far as human activities are concerned. Gas flaring is the burning of natural gas that is associated with crude oil when it is pumped up from the ground.
Above all, Nigeria has the world’s largest level of gas flaring, and it flares 16 percent of the world’s total associated gas (Global Gas Flaring Reduction, 2002); while about 22 billion standard cubic feet (SCF) of natural gas is flared daily (Bailey, W; Crabrre, M; Tyrie, J; Elphick, F; Romano, C; and Roodhart, C. 2000) due to lack of utilize infrastructure and approximately 75 percent of associated gas is flared in Nigeria (Bailey, W; Crabree, M; Tyrie J; Elphick, F; Romano, C; and Roodhart, C; 2000; Watts, 2001) compared to 8 percent in Alberta, Canada (Watts, 2001).
The history of natural gas production in Nigeria is dated back to 1950 when shell D’ archy and British Petroleum discovered the first oil in Oloibiri, presently, Bayelsa State of Niger Delta Basin. Gas flaring began soon after in 1956. Today as petroleum exploration and exploitation intensity, gas flaring is now associated with ever oil producing community in the Nigeria Delta region. Agoawike (1995), in an article title “Our Dying Environment” summarized that in oil producing areas from Warri in delta state to Ogoni in River State and Oguta in Imo state, the story is the same, farmlands are rendered useless, rivers depleted of aquatic life, and the air polluted by gas emissions. Ahialwo (1990), opined that the oil industry in Nigeria is the foundation of under development in Ogba-land where cases of atmospheric thermal and surface pollution abound. Expert reports of oil exploration in such communities reveals that gas flaring has caused most of the buildings in that community, especially those structures with corrugated iron sheet roofs, to experience massive damage resulting in frequent changes and leakages.

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