GAS FLARING TAXES: A MEASURE TO CURB
GAS VENTING IN NIGERIA’S NIGER DELTA
Nigeria is noted for some of the most interesting and appalling attributes in world arena. It is foremost, the giant of Africa, the most foremost corrupt nation on planet earth, the thirtieth poorest nation on earth, the world’s fifth largest producer of crude oil and natural gas and also among the twentieth major flarer of natural gas beside Russia, Iran, Qatar,Venezuala. To maintain her lead in world oil production, she is now gearing efforts to actualize a production target of 4m barrels per day. There is nothing is wrong such projection though, but Nigeria need to integrate the plights of the poor Niger Delta communities and the environment into short, and long term planning. Increase in daily oil production invariably means increase in daily gas flaring and emission of carbon dioxide. According to the center for Strategic and International Studies, Nigeria accounts for 25% of world’s flaring which is estimated at 115 billion cubic meters per year. This cost Nigeria an estimated loss of $2.5 billion per year.
World record above accounts for why Nigeria is said to be one of the greatest contributors to global warming. Multi-national companies (Shell Oil, Chevron, ExxonMobil, TotalFinal, Elf, Agip), are responsible for such gas flaring. The impact of these ignited and un-ignited gases are so grave that inhabitants of the region are now experiencing slow death. The life expectancy in the region is now below 40 years. Chronic heart diseases, lung disorder, sinuses, cancer, asthma are rapidly on the rise. Animals and plants and the entire ecosystem are not speared either in these massive hydrocarbon war. Could any thing be done to curb this trend? Not if Nigerian politicians continuous to enjoy the lassaize from the present oil wind-fall. And not at this time when light sweet crude is approaching 100 dollars in electronic trading.
Can’t the Nigerian Government protect the people, a friend of mine lamented? No, what is happening is conspiratory. Power is no more in the hands of the people. Power is now in the hands of Shell Oil and other transnational Oil lords not Nigerians. Shell Oil has even confessed to fueling corruption in Nigeria. Let me digress a little, it is said that Africa is home to some of the largest oil deposits, gas, timber, diamonds, gold, coltan, bauxite, cobalt etc, then, why is Africa poor? The simple answer is that, these resources are not absolutely in the hands of Africans. Second, the profits from these resources are used to ignite and destabilize African communities from where the resources are extracted. This is the situation with Nigeria.
Recall, a Federal High Court judge – Justice C.V Nwokorie in 2005 ruled in the case of the Iwerekan Community in Delta State Vs. Shell Oil, “the damaging and wasteful practice of flaring by all major companies operating in the region . . cannot lawfully continue.” Shell Oil Company instead of complying with the ruling, bluff-off the order arguing that, stopping gas flaring wasn’t attainable even in 2008. Nigeria is a country that holds 3% of world natural gas reserve including associated gases.
One thing is clear; Niger Delta could easily win the war against gas flaring by mandating their respective representatives in congress to initiate a gas flaring tax. We are aware Nigeria is a founding father of the Global Gas Flaring Reduction Partnership (GGFR), but I’m afraid, with Shell Oil as a member, she is only there as a toothless bull dog. We are also conscious, Nigeria is a signatory to the Kyoto protocol but she hasn’t kept to the tenets of this global agreement. The agreement sort for countries to cut their emission of carbon dioxide (green house gases). Gas flaring taxes is urgently needed to make-up for the inadequacies of the Bonny Liquefied Natural Gas Plants.
In my view, the only measure that could curb these massive wastes of natural and associated gases is for lawmakers in Nigeria’s parliament to enact legislation “Gas Flaring Taxes.” A compulsory $40 tax per ton on carbon dioxide emitted would chase these multinationals out of the Niger Delta creeks. If this is seriously enforced, Nigeria would gain about $2.8 billion dollars annually. This is even enough to pilot an Ogoni State. It would also go a long way to aid an Education Trust Fund (ETF). It would even ensure the purchase of scientific environmental instruments to monitor the Niger Delta environment. It is only by such levies that these elusive multinational corporations could comply and the down to earth education sector rejuvenated. Nigeria would even emerge as the foremost country to seriously fight global warming.
BY KORNEBARI NWIKE
KorneBari Nwike is President of the National Union of Ogoni Students (NUOS INTL; USA), Student Member, Chicago Council on Global Affairs, Member, Sister City Association of Kansas City Missouri, Inc, United Nations Association – Young Professionals for International Co – operation (UNA- YPIC), Member, MOSOP- USA. Write your comments to: firstname.lastname@example.org , Visit: www.nuos-international.org