Gas Flaring in Niger Delta and Offshore
As reported today on NPR's Morning Edition2, gas flaring from Nigerian wells and refineries emits more greenhouse gases than any other single source in Africa south of the Sahara. Even more important for the Nigerian people are the chronic health effects and contamination of the air, water, and soil in the delta which result from the practice of flaring rather than capturing the natural gas. Approximately 24 billion m3 of natural gas are wasted by flaring in the Niger delta and offshore, and the flares are bright enough to be clearly detected in satellite images as shown above.
According to Nigerian economist Anthony Adegbulugbe, quoted on the TVE program Earth Report, Nigerian natural gas wasted by flaring would be enough to provide electricity to half of Africa for a year. Amazingly enough, however, Russian oil and gas production is even more wasteful. Current research by NOAA research scientist Chris Elvidge and associates1 has found that Russia actually flares more than twice Nigeria's 24 billion m3 volume. Because most of Russia's oil production is in Siberia and other sparsely populated regions, however, the local and regional environmental impacts are somewhat less extreme.
1 Elvidge, C. D., Baugh, K. E., Tuttle, B. T., Howard, A. T., Pack, D. W., Milesi, C., and Erwin, E. H., 2007, A Twelve Year Record of National and Global Gas Flaring Volumes Estimated Using Satellite Data. Boulder, Colo.: NOAA National Geophysical Data Center.
2 Quist-Arcton, Ofebia, 2007, Gas Flaring Disrupts Life in Oil-Producing Niger Delta, National Public Radeio, 24 July.