Legal action to stop Nigeria gas flaring
Climate Justice Programme, 20 June 2005 -- Communities from across the Niger Delta have filed a case in the Federal High Court of Nigeria against the Shell, ExxonMobil, ChevronTexaco, TotalFinaElf and Agip joint venture companies, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, and the Nigerian government, to stop gas flaring.
For immediate release
Photographs available – see below
LAGOS, NIGERIA, 20th June 2005 -- Communities from across the Niger Delta, with the support of Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA), have today filed a legal action against the Nigerian government, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation and the Shell, Exxon, Chevron, Total and Agip joint venture companies to stop gas flaring.
More gas is flared in Nigeria than anywhere else in the world, and flaring in the country has contributed more greenhouse gas emissions than all other sources in sub-Saharan Africa combined according to the World Bank.
The cocktail of toxic substances which has been emitted in the flares for over 40 years, including benzene and particulates, has exposed Niger Delta communities to severe health risks and property damage, in violation of their human rights.
Moreover, flaring has been in general prohibited under environmental regulations since 1984, unless a ministerial consent has been lawfully issued and conditions are complied with. Despite requests by ERA, no consents or conditions have been disclosed by any of the companies.
The annual financial loss to Nigeria from gas flared has been put at about US $2.5 billion, while about two-thirds of the population are estimated by the World Bank to live on less than US $1 a day.
The filing of the case is accompanied by the publication today of a 36-page report entitled "Gas Flaring in Nigeria: A human rights, environmental and economic monstrosity", written by the Climate Justice Programme and Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria. The report is available in a PDF format or an HTML format.
The report's Executive Summary in English, French and Italian is available online
See the footage and read the testimony of film-maker Janos Jersch here.
See a photo gallery here.
The legal documents in the case are available here.
A 2-page Fact Sheet on Nigerian Gas Flaring is available.
Comrade Che Ibegwura from Erema, an Egi community in Rivers State said:
"For many years, we have been living with continuous flaring of gas from TotalFinaElf. Our farmlands have been polluted. We labour hard to plant but little comes out. Our roofs are corroded. Our air is polluted. Our children are sick. Even the rainwater we drink is contaminated with black soot from the gas flares. We cannot continue with this suffering. We need to take legal action to protect ourselves, our children and our future."
Tare Dadiowei from Gbarain community in Bayelsa State commented:
"It is our hope that the laws of Nigeria will protect us from the continuous violations of our human rights and destruction of our livelihood by Shell. While Shell makes cheap excuses for the continuing flaring of gas in our communities, we bear the huge costs with our contaminated air and soil, diseases and death."
Reverend Nnimmo Bassey, Executive Director of Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria, described the filing of the legal case as:
"a major step in our collective effort as citizens of Nigeria to make oil and gas corporations and the government behave responsibly. For too long we have witnessed the atrocious flaring of associated gas by profiteering oil corporations that hold the people in utmost contempt. We are calling on the law to defend our impoverished citizens."
Peter Roderick, co-Director of the Climate Justice Programme said:
"As the G8 prepares to discuss climate change and Africa, Nigerian gas flaring provides them with an outrageous example of the problems. It is a shameful and indefensible stain on the reputation of western oil companies. The appalling waste of greenhouse gases in one of the world poorest countries is a violation of the human rights of those subjected to the flaring. It is astonishing that it continues on such a scale when Nigerian regulations have prohibited the practice in general since 1984."
Paul de Clerck, Coordinator of the Friends of the Earth International Corporate campaign said:
"Everyone agrees that gas flaring should stop because it is bad for people's health and the environment. Nevertheless, the oil companies continue to prolong it. Last month Shell announced that it would not abide by its commitment to end gas flaring by 2008. Continuing to ruin people's life for more years is totally unacceptable."
IN NIGERIA, Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria:
Asume Osuoka (Port Harcourt)
+234 84 236365
IN GERMANY, Climate Justice Programme:
Roda Verheyen, co-Director
+ 49 179 465 2979
IN BELGIUM, Friends of the Earth International:
Paul de Clerck
+ 32 2 542 6107
IN THE UK, Friends of the Earth, England, Wales and Northern Ireland in London
+ 44 20 7566 4084 (office)
+ 44 7952 993283 (mobile)
IN THE NETHERLANDS, Milieudefensie, Friends of the Earth Netherlands
Anne van Schaik
+ 31 20 550 7387
IN THE USA, Friends of the Earth USA, Washington DC
+ 1 202 222 0717 (office)
+ 1 202 321 1510 (mobile)
IN SLOVAKIA, Priatelia Zeme, Friends of the Earth Slovakia
+ 421 48 412 3859
IN URUGUAY, REDES, Friends of the Earth Uruguay
+ 598 290 82730 / 290 22355
The action was filed this morning 20th June 2005 in the Federal High Court of Nigeria in Benin City. The communities bringing the action include Rumuekpe, Akala-Olu, Erema and Idama (Rivers State); Ewherekan (Delta State); EKET (Akwa Ibom State) and Imiringi and Gbarain (Bayelsa State).
Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria is dedicated to the defence of human ecosystems in terms of human rights, and to the promotion of environmentally responsible governmental, commercial, community and individual practice in Nigeria through the empowerment of local people: www.eraction.org.
The Climate Justice Programme is an initiative hosted by Friends of the Earth International. It aims to encourage and support the enforcement of the law internationally to combat climate change. Over 70 organisations and lawyers are signatories to its Statement of Support, including Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, WWF and organizations based in developing countries: www.climatelaw.org.