he paradox that Nigeria is blessed with abundant natural resources, yet operates a mono-economy remains a topic of debate in sessions. While crude oil is the mainstay of the nation’s economy and accounts for about 70% of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP), exploration and exploitation of fossil fuels have posed severe environmental hazards. Frequent oil spillages and unceasing gas flaring have caused untold ecological disaster to especially the oil-producing communities in the Delta region of the country.
Oil spill occurs as a result of the release of liquid petroleum hydrocarbon into the environment – land and water. It is caused by a variety of factors ranging from pipeline corrosion, pipeline vandalism or sabotage to production. In Nigeria, the most common causes are pipe corrosion and destruction.
On the other hand, gas flaring refers to the burning of “oil-associated gas” in the course of the extraction of the crude oil from the soil. Sadly, gas flaring is a continuous activity in Nigeria despite its adverse effects on the ecosystem.
Statistics of oil spills and gas flaring in the Niger Delta where exploration and exploitation of crude oil has been done for over five decades are quite scary and terrifying. An estimated 54 million barrels of oil have been spilled into the Niger Delta environment so far with severe implications on flora, fauna and human lives. In December 2011 alone, the Bonga Offshore Oil Platform belonging to the Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited (SPDC) splattered a huge 40,000 barrels of crude oil into the marine environment causing massive ecological disaster. Also, approximately 70 million metric tons of carbon dioxide (gas) is emitted yearly into the ecosystem resulting in sicknesses, deaths and other ecological issues.
Efforts by successive federal governments to resolve the problems of oil spill and gas flare have been quite regrettable. They have been very disappointing because they have been very ineffective. Many analysts hold that these measures are rather political in that they are formulated and executed largely to serve political purposes.
A case to note is the lackadaisical and slapdash approach to the Ogoni environmental remediation process by the current administration. Many months after the flag-off of the remediation effort by the federal government, nothing tangible has been done in that direction. The flag-off seem to be a sheer political gimmick to earn political capital.
Some analysts also maintain that the federal government has not taken concrete steps to enact necessary legislations to ensure zero gas flaring in the country. Though, government in all tiers admit that gas flaring pose serious socio-economic dangers and account for global warming with its severe multifarious implications, they have not been able to summon political will and courage to address this hazard adequately.
While there is a sincere call for diversification of the economy, it is imperative for government to de-politicize the environmental remediation efforts. Government should show genuine concern and make laws that are required to remedy the devastated environment and to check further degradation of the ecosystem.
The Niger Delta bionetwork has become an endangered habitat. Good health facilities must be established and efficiently run to combat the respiratory diseases that have become the blight of the indigenes. The entire environment must be thoroughly cleaned and renewed to protect both land and aquatic lives. The earlier this is done, the better for the region and the entire country.
Solalina Oil and Gas Company, a subsidiary of the Solalina Investment Group of the Modickson Consortium, is genuinely concerned about the ecological catastrophe in the Niger Delta. If you want to know more about the environmental effects of oil spillage and gas flaring and how they can be mitigated in line with international best practices at a relatively lower cost, then Solalina is a better bet.