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Our response to Shell

Shell has been replying recently to people taking our online action playing down the impact gas flaring has on communities and talking up the limited work they are doing to eradicate it.

Here is our response to some of their claims. Feel free to write back to Shell rebutting them.

a reduction in flaring by a third

In the past seven years Shell say they have reduced flaring by a third and diverted the associated gas to gas powered power stations and Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) export terminals. Whilst this may be true they could do so much more. There is no plan in place to eradicate the remaining two thirds of the flare sites. 


Shell offer an historical explanation as to why they flare citing that at the time the flares were erected the infrastructure wasn't in place and the technology did not exist to pipe the gas. 


With regard to technology, from the beginning of Shell's operations in Nigeria they've invested millions in the technology to extract oil from remote places in the Delta. However, they chose not to invest in technology to pipe the associated gas that comes with extraction.


They also say that climate change was not an issue at the time the flares were introduced and therefore they didn't know the harm they were doing burning methane gas into the atmosphere. This was true once, but for more than two decades we've know that methane is a powerful greenhouse gas and a valuable resource. 


working with the government and the security situation

Shell state that progress continues to be delayed by lack of funding from its government partner and the deteriorating security situation in the Niger Delta where armed attacks, damage to oil and gas facilities and hostage-taking are a common occurrence.

It's true that the Nigerian government has a responsibility and can be a difficult business partner. Still, it was the oil companies that went into business with the government and Shell has run a very profitable business in Nigeria since the 1950's.


When it comes to Shell's core business, operational problems have been overcome. In the last year two new gas wells have been drilled and an additional two new flares have appeared. It seems that Shell can still carry out big projects in the Niger Delta when it benefits them to do so.


Health concerns

Shell states that there is no evidence to support our claim that flaring has a devastating impact on health.


We have proof that the flaring of natural gas, that consists of methane and a mix of impurities, causes air pollution, far above levels that are healthy according to WHO standards (see report referenced below).



in conclusion 

The fact that oil companies are able to produce over a million barrels of oil in the Niger Delta every day, makes clear that technical and safety problems can be solved. Shell is more interested in boosting its profits than stopping flaring. 


Gas flares are not the only problem the Delta has to cope with, but it is a problem that can be solved. Closing down the flares will take out one of the most visible signs of the detrimental presence of oil companies in the Delta. This step could be the start of more sustainable relations between the Niger Delta communities and the oil companies.

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