SOCIO ECONOMIC IMPACT OF GAS FLARING IN AN OIL PRODUCING COMMUNITY OF DELTA STATE, NIGERIA
1.1. BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Nigeria is endowed richly with energy resources which includes; coal, tar sand, oil, natural gas, hydroelectricity, solar and so on. The
exploitation of crude petroleum by various oil companies accounts for the pollution of the atmosphere globally. Odiong et al (2010) posited
that one of the problems associated with crude oil exploitation is gas flaring. In Nigeria for instance, it is estimated that about 180 billion
cubic feet of proven natural gas making it the ninth highest concentration in the world. Due to unsustainable exploration practices coupled
with lack of gas utilization infrastructure in Nigeria, the country flares 75 percent of the gas it produces and re-injects only 12 percent to
enhance oil recovery. Evoh (2002) estimated that about two billion standard cubic feet of gas is currently being flared in Nigeria and the
highest of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). The current statistics shows that, Nigeria accounts for about 19 percent of the total
amount of gas flared globally. Gas flaring started at the end of colonial rule in Nigeria during the 60s as Shell/BP started exploring for oil in
the Niger Delta region in the 1930s (Asumeet al, 2002). Odionget al (2002), defined gas flaring as burning of gas widely used in disposing of
natural gas (e.g.C02, C0, N02, and S02) liberated during oil exploitation and processing where there are no infrastructures to support the
production and storage of natural gases. These activities are crystal clear in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria especially in Delta state. Gas
flaring is a major contributor to the stock of green house gases in the atmosphere thus adding to the climate change chaos and by far the
main source of carbon dioxide emissions in sub-sahara Africa (ERA, 2008). The turning of these liberated gases vented or flared in Delta state
has a lot of implications to the socioeconomic well-being of households. Flared gas contained hazardous substances which are methane,
prophane, ethane, iso-butane, n-butane etc, when combine with the atmosphere moisture formed an acid rain which falls on roofs and
farmlands where households sources of livelihood are sourced thereby causing serious health hazards and damages to crops as well as live
stocks in Delta state. Akpojiviet al (2005) submitted that, gas flaring results in the release of emissions rich in C02, C0, N02, S02 etc carried
soil and water bodies in communities close to the flare sites. ERA (2008) reported that communities located close to gas flares may have
serious health impacts on the form of respiratory illness, asthma, blood disorders, cancer, painful breathing and chronic bronchitis.
According to World Bank (2009) it was estimated that, more than 100 million cubic metres of gas is flared annually around the globe, despite
the incentives to capture the associated gas and bring it to market; that the quantity of gas flared in the Niger Delta region is enough to
cover the annual gas consumption needs of Germany and France put together. Consequently, more attention is focused on the oil sector by
the Nigerian government resulting in the neglect of the agricultural sector of the economy and ignores the link between oil extraction and
environmental impact as well as social and health problems it has created. IFC (2009), reported gas flaring wastes destroyed resources in
the natural environment and thus deprived the rural poor in developing economies cleaner and cheaper source of energy resources.
Ebiyegbagha (2010) and ISS (2007) described agriculture as the pivot in the development of human civilization. Many countries across the
globe have subsidized as well as invested in agriculture for raw material benefits as well as ensuring food security to her citizenry among
others. Despite these efforts, there are some inherent problems affecting the development of the sector in developing economies. One of
such problems is the gas flaring in the Niger Delta region in Nigeria. ERA/FOE (2008), reported that, routine gas flaring has been illegal since
1984 as stated in section 3 of Nigeria’s Association Gas Re-injection Act of 1979. Gas flaring is a widely used practice by oil companies
especially in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria for the disposal of natural gas in petroleum producing areas where there is no infrastructure to
make use of the flared gas. DMSP et al (2006), stated that, gas flaring is recognized as a waste of energy of carbon emissions to the
atmosphere. An in-depth study of the Natural gas in Nigeria becomes imperative because of its pervasive impact on the development of any
area in the world that is measured by per capital energy consumption on the contribution of the energy sector to the gross domestic
product. This study, however, add to the existing literature on the evaluation of the impact of gas flaring on socio-economic in Nigeria using
Delta State as case study.
An in-depth study of the Natural gas in Nigeria becomes imperative because of its pervasive impact on the development of any area in the
world that is measured by per capital energy consumption on the contribution of the energy sector to the gross domestic product. This
study, however, add to the existing literature on the evaluation of the impact of gas flaring on socio-economic in Nigeria using Delta State as
1.2 STATEMENT OF PROBLEM
For many years after the discovery of oil in commercial quantities in Nigeria, most of the associated gas is flared, with its attendant
environmental consequences on the health of the people. Nigeria flares 17.2 billion m3 of natural gas per year in conjunction with the
exploration of crude oil in the Niger Delta. This high level of gas flaring is equal to approximately one quarter of the current power
consumption of the African continent. It has been stated that more than 400 million tonnes of carbon dioxide are injected into the world’s
atmosphere yearly from gas flares in Nigeria. Nigeria is struggling to overcome its severe electricity generation and distribution deficiencies,
yet the country does not have a functional climate or energy policy that aspires towards generating a significant percentage of its electricity
from renewable energy sources. However, several efforts have been made recently to curtail gas flaring, including the establishment of a
liquefied natural gas plant, a pipeline to transport gas to some neighboring countries, and legislative measures to regulate the oil and gas
industry. This Paper will examine those legislative measures put in place to curtail the harmful socio economics consequences of gas flaring.
It will also consider the environmental, health, and social economic impacts associated with the flaring of gas in oil producing communities
in Nigeria and make recommendations to ameliorate the effects of gas flaring in the region.
AIMS OF THE STUDY
The major purpose of this study is to examine the socio economic impact of gas flaring in an oil producing community. Other general
objectives of the study are:
To examine corruption and other unethical practices encouraging continuous gas flaring in Nigeria.
To examine the Economic Prospects in Relation to the Development of a Proper Gas Plan in Nigeria.
To examine the impact of gas flaring on the social life, economy and environment of the host community.
To examine the Prospects for Developing Extensive Infrastructure for Natural Gas in Nigeria.
To examine the relationship between gas flaring and socio economic activities of the people of Delta state.
To examine the efforts made by government and oil companies to stop gas flaring in the Niger Delta region.
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
Are corruption and other unethical practices encouraging continuous gas flaring in Nigeria?
What are the Economic Prospects in Relation to the Development of a Proper Gas Plan in Nigeria?
What are the impacts of gas flaring on the social life, economy and environment of the host community?
What are the Prospects for Developing Extensive Infrastructure for Natural Gas in Nigeria?
What is the relationship between gas flaring and socio economic activities of the people of Delta state?
What are the efforts made by government and oil companies to stop gas flaring in the Niger Delta region?
1.5 RESEARCH HYPOTHESES
H01: There is no impact of gas flaring on the social life, economy and environment of the host community.
H02: There is no significant relationship between gas flaring and socio economic activities of the people of Delta state.
1.6 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
The significance of this study is to create awareness on the socio economic impact of gas flaring in Delta state and to draw the attention of
Elf, and NLNG Company (bring to the notice) the socio economic impact of Gas flared in the process of their exploration and exploitation on
the inhabitants of Delta state. Implementation of research finding on control strategies that will improve the Delta states people’s
environment. This study will also provide a base line data and useful information’s and serves as a reference materials for environmental
health workers as well as further research studies on the subject matter.
1.7 SCOPE OF THE STUDY
The study is based on socio economic impact of gas flaring in selected oil producing communities of Delta State, Nigeria
1.8 LIMITATION OF STUDY
Financial constraint– Insufficient fund tends to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature or
information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire and interview).
Time constraint– The researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. This consequently will cut down on
the time devoted for the research work.
SOCIO ECONOMIC IMPACT OF GAS FLARING IN AN OIL PRODUCING COMMUNITY OF DELTA STATE, NIGERIA