Nov. 14, 2005, 10:04PM
Nigerian court orders an end to gas flaring: "Royal Dutch Shell,
Chevron, Exxon Mobil and other oil companies in Nigeria must
stop burning off gas associated with oil production or risk
prison time and fines, a Nigerian federal court has ruled.":
Posted Tuesday 15 November 2005
If companies don't stop, prison time a possibility
By JULIE ZIEGLER
Shell, Chevron, Exxon Mobil and other oil companies in
Nigeria must stop burning off gas associated with oil production
or risk prison time and fines, a Nigerian federal court has
Justice C.V. Nwokorie ruled in the Federal High Court of
Nigeria in Benin City that so-called gas flaring, the burning of
natural gas as waste, and its related pollution violate
constitutional rights to life and dignity. The court said
flaring cannot continue, according to a news release Monday from
the environmental group Friends of the Earth.
Shell, based in the Netherlands, said it appealed the
"The court has declared gas flaring illegal," said Chimi
Williams, a lawyer for the environmental group Friends of the
Earth Nigeria, which supported the case that was filed by Jonah
Gbemre on behalf of the Iwerekan community in Nigeria's Delta
Nigeria, Africa's biggest oil producer, burns more than 16
billion cubic meters of gas a year through flaring, more than
any other country, according to the World Bank. Flaring
contributes to the buildup of greenhouse gases and harms local
communities, the World Bank has said.
Shell said on Sept. 29 that it needs to invest $2 billion
to meet a 2008 target of ending gas flaring in Nigeria. The
company said it has previously appealed the jurisdiction of the
ruling. The company also said it has already cut routine flaring
at 22 of its 73 flow stations.
Williams said any penalties related to the court order
would be suspended until an appeal decision was made.
"Let them appeal to the Supreme Court. This decision will
never be upturned," Williams said.
Shell also said that between 1996 and 2004 the budget of
the federal government was $4 billion less than agreed to
support joint venture programs, including those related to gas
"A full response will be made when the details of the
judgment are received,"
Shell said in a prepared statement.
Shell has a "commitment to ending routine flaring of gas
in its Nigerian operations."
Spokesmen for Chevron and Exxon Mobil didn't immediately
respond to a request for comment.
Nigeria cut flaring to 40 percent of total gas output in
2004 from 78 percent in 1996, Abiodun Ibikunle, assistant
director in Nigeria's oil ministry, said at a conference on
Sept. 29. Flaring will probably drop to about 5 percent by 2008,