How Nigeria communities have paid price for oil production
IN 1962 my wife and I drove into a nearby forest to check out a large clearing that had suddenly appeared at the same time as a number of unexplained bangs. We were curious but then we were in the Niger Delta rather than North Yorkshire. The mud road was deeply rutted and it all soon became clear – Shell had arrived – and facing us was a seismic investigation compound, and a drilling rig.
The next two years saw streams of large wagons, and huge piles of pipes, and then we left, fleeing the Biafran war in which oil revenues played a major role. We haven’t been back but if we did we would be appalled at what has happened to the peaceful farming and fishing communities of the Isoko, Ijaw and Ogoni. Their lives have been devastated, even terminated, and their delta despoiled.
Nigeria is now the tenth largest oil producer in the world, and the largest in Africa, producing over two million barrels a day. These generate three quarters of Nigeria’s export earnings and could have revolutionised the country but it wasn’t in the multinationals’ plan.
The thousands of small wells produce large volumes of natural gas as well as the oil, over 100 million cubic metres a day, but rather than use it to generate electricity it’s cheaper to flare off at least 70 per cent of it, and light up the delta. This, the equivalent of a quarter of the UK’s daily use, is wasted, and now provides the largest single source of carbon dioxide emissions anywhere in the world. It’s supposed to have stopped, but still continues in many areas.
Source: Telegraph and Argus
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