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The Guardian (UK): Shell faces flaring lawsuit

The Guardian (UK): Shell faces flaring lawsuit

Terry Macalister

Tuesday June 21, 2005

Shell and its partners yesterday found themselves facing a legal suit from local rural communities and western environmentalists over allegations of causing pollution and global warming by flaring gas in Nigeria.

The case – designed to highlight the issue ahead of next month’s G8 summit on Africa and climate change – was lodged in the federal high court of Nigeria in Benin City by the Gbarain and other communities.

Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace and the World Wildlife Fund are supporting the move which came with a new 35-page report: “Gas flaring in Nigeria: a human rights, environmental and economic monstrosity.”

Although burning off excess hydrocarbons was officially banned there in 1984, oil companies have repeatedly asked for – and been granted – special ministerial concessions to continue.

Friends of the Earth says 2.5bn cubic feet a day of gas is flared instead of harnessing it for energy, losing Nigeria $2.5bn (£1.5bn) in potential revenues annually and producing about 70m tonnes of CO2 a year.

Deadly substances have been emitted by flares for more than 40 years and the Nigerian government has promised to ensure it ends in 2008. Last month Shell said it would not meet that target.

Tare Dadiowei from Gbarain community in Bayelsa State, said: “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.”

Shell said last night it was prevented from making the 2008 target because its Nigerian partners had not been given promised government funds to do so and because of “local factors.”

A spokesman added: “We will be putting out the last flares in 2009 whether we find an economic solution or just close the last 17 low-production fields.”,,1510912,00.html

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