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Gbarantoru Community Shocked by Onset of Shell’s Massive Gas Furnace

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Gbarantoru Community Shocked by Onset of Shell’s Massive Gas Furnace.

Stella Peters

The people of Gbarantoru Community, in Ekpetiama Kingdom of Yenagoa LGA, Bayelsa State, has expressed shock over the sudden onset of a massive gas furnace lit by Shell close to homes in the community, without prior notice and consent.

Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF) considers the fact that oil companies responsible for gas flaring have often perpetrated such a dangerously polluting act close to homes in communities, with or without any form of permission. This is yet another testament to the impunity with which these oil multinationals operate in the Niger Delta. Community members lament the pain of being left in the lurch without any consultation or help. A community woman stated that she was alarmed by the noise from the huge gas furnace and massive smoke, “I ran out of her apartment screaming, what are they burning at that end?” According to another resident of the community, “Nobody has come to talk to anybody
before flaring this gas.”

A community person who had the massive gas flare on video record lamented, “See how SPDC is flaring their gas. Look at the residence, very close. SPDC is causing havoc, and damage to the people of Gbarantoru, health-wise, noise pollution. The government should come to our aid. They should relocate the occupants of all the buildings. Houses are vibrating, windows are shaking, and children are scared. There’s no way to sleep at night; heat all over,” According to some community persons, as of Saturday, 2 March 2024, Shell’s massive gas furnace had raged for about four days.

The Executive Director of Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF) Nnimmo Bassey called for an end to gas flaring citing its socio-ecological, health, climate, and economic impacts on the people of the Niger Delta.

“We consider 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 and as affirmed by a High Court ruling in November 2005 in the case of Jonah Gbemre against Shell.”

Basssey further stated that “The flaring of gas is pervasive in the Niger Delta and is a harmful and wasteful practice. Aside from being a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions responsible for climate change, the impacts of gas flares on the health of community people, their ecosystems, biodiversity, aquatic resources, agricultural production, livelihood sources, as well as the larger Nigerian economy are deleterious”.

HOMEF notes that calculations made, using World Bank figures, showed that from 2013 to 2019, about 319.48 standard cubic feet of gas were flared into Nigeria’s environment amounting to a waste of $1,080,390,000 without a cost put to the amount of pollution caused. Again, PwC figures have shown that between 2020 and the first two months of 2024, 595.1 million standard cubic feet of gas have been flared in nine Nigerian states amounting to another waste of $1.9 billion and more damage to the environment.

Niger Delta people have had to deal with over 65 years of environmental pollution and degradation by oil multinationals. We believe that it is high time that stringent measures are taken to put an end to gas flaring in Nigeria and to chart a path towards a just and equitable energy transition. Communities in the Niger Delta have continually raised alarm over this illicit activity of the oil and gas sector.

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