THE Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) has expressed concern over the safety of Ogboinbiri community in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of Bayelsa State where the natives are daily exposed to gas flaring from a flow station in the area operated by Nigerian Agip Oil Company (NAOC).
It, therefore, urged the Federal Government to initiate a movement for an environmental audit or post-impact assessment of the community.
ERA/FoEN in its report made available to newsmen in Yenagoa described the Ogboinbiri situation as pathetic due to the intensity of the roaring flares from the two vertical gas flare stacks in the area which sometimes causes panic among the natives.
The report signed by Alagoa Morris, Head of ERA/FoEN Bayelsa office lamented the plight of the locals noting that apart from the destruction of their means of livelihood, the extreme heat and buildings vibration they are confronted with, their source of drinking water have also been polluted.
He said: “It is, however, unfortunate that people living in a community like Ogboinbiri that is so close to two vertical gas flare stacks burning daily cannot access the medical facility in the community due to the high cost of medical services and drugs.
“The main community where people live is approximately about 600-800 meters from the vertical gas flare stacks. Ordinarily, these victims of Agip’s illegal flaring of gas ought to be given special medical attention and properly relocated within the community environment; as is the case of Finima and the Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) in Bonny, Rivers State.
“This is even more so, considering the life-threatening overflowing of the gas and vibrations at the flare site so nearby. Where there is a sense of social and environmental justice, the people of Ogboinbiri cannot be left the way they are; denied.
“The Ogboinbiri oilfield is within OML 63 and the Nigerian Agip Oil Company Limited has been exploiting crude oil and gas from the community environment since the Ogboinbiri Flow Station was established in the late 1980s.
“Presently the Ogboinbiri oilfield had 17 viable or functional oil wells, from which Agip has continue to extract crude oil and gas till date, producing 50,000 bbls/d (fifty thousand barrels of crude oil per day) and 180 million cubic feet of gas daily.
“With all the resources taken daily from the community by Agip and NNPC Joint venture and 13 per cent derivation accruing monthly to Bayelsa State, it is unthinkable that such a community is denied portable water and affordable health facility. And, this is alienation by the government and unjust.”
Morris added that though oil companies are paying fines for the different volumes of gas flared daily in the country following the 1984 law [Gas Re-Injection Act] which outlawed gas flaring and making the act illegal, “it is on record that the Federal Government in reacting to pressure from stakeholders has shifted the goal post of ending gas flaring in Nigeria again and again.
“At the expense of victims of the negative impacts, the Federal Government, 36 State governments, the Federal Capital Territory and 774 local governments in the country are sharing proceeds (fines) from the toxic flares in the oilfields.”
He, therefore, called on the federal and state government to initiate moves for an Environmental Audit or Post Impact Assessment, to be partly sponsored by Agip since “all three tiers of government and Federal Capital Territory Abuja are benefiting from the pains inflicted on this community by the sailing gas flares.”