This report examines the social, environmental and economic consequences of gas flaring- the process of burning-off surplus combustible vapours from a well, either as a means of disposal or as a safety measure - in the Niger Delta. More gas is flared in Nigeria than anywhere else in the world. Estimates are notoriously unreliable, but roughly 2.5 billion cubic feet of gas associated with crude oil is wasted in this way everyday.Flaring of associated gas began at the start of the industry in the Delta at the very end of British rule, and has been carried to world record heights by Shell, ExxonMobil, ChevronTexaco, Agip and TotalFinaElf in joint ventures with the state-owned Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation. This has happened despite its immense social, environmental and economic costs, which have made it general illegal since 1984:the flares have contributed more greenhouse gases than all of sub- Saharan Africa combinedthe flares contain a cocktail of toxins that affect the health and livelihood of local communities, exposing Niger Delta residents to an increased risk of premature deaths, child respiratory illnesses, asthma and cancer2.5 billion cubic feet of gas associated with crude oil is wasted in this way everyday which is equal to 40% of all Africa's natural gas consumption in 2001, while the annual financial loss to Nigeria is about US $2.5 billionthe benefits of nearly half a century of oil production have gone almost exclusively to the multinationals and the corrupt local eliteeven though the Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo and the major transnational oil companies appear to have agreed a non-binding commitment to a flare-out date of 2008, efforts to achieve the target have been, at best, slowwith crude oil production having risen to 2.5 million barrels per day in 2004, and with the projected increase to 4 million barrels per day by 2010, it is difficult to see how most of the resulting increased amounts of associated gas will not be flare.The report demands an immediate end to gas flaring, and an end to exploration and new oil field development until facilities are in place for the utilisation of all associated gas.[adapted from author]
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