Natural Gas Burns: In Nigeria, Markets define policy

By Jennifer Huang | World Power II: Environment

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According to the World Bank’s 1995 report “Defining an Environmental Development Strategy for the Niger Delta,” about 187 cubic meters of associated gas billows forth with every cubic meter of oil pumped. Shell estimates the amount to be much lower at 28 cubic meters per barrel, but affirms that 95 percent of this gas is flared — more than 56 million cubic meters every day. According to Nigerian Minister of State for the Environment Imeh Okopido, flaring in the Niger Delta makes up about 20 percent of the worldwide total. The U.S. Department of Energy calculated a release of 11 million metric tons of atmospheric carbon by Nigerian flares in 1998 and more than 300 million metric tons since 1963. About 12 million tons of methane were released from Nigerian flares last year.

Lawsuits Target Energy Giants: Nigeria II — Bowoto v. Chevron

By Jennifer Huang | World Power I: Business & Law

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Conflict in Nigeria spawned another lawsuit, Bowoto v. Chevron, filed in San Francisco in July 2000 by a group of 25 Nigerians. In their complaint, the plaintiffs claim to be victims of machine gun attacks by the military against protesters on the Parabe oil platform in the Niger Delta, and later against the villages of Opia and Ikenyan from May 1998 to January 1999. The suit maintains that Chevron “did willfully, maliciously and systematically violate Plaintiff’s human rights, including summary execution, torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment,” by ordering the attacks, transporting the soldiers in company-owned helicopters and boats, and providing them with salaries, ammunition and other tools. One of the named plaintiffs, Larry Bowoto, ran a small fishing and boating supply shop in Ogoniland, and joined in the protests on the Parabe oil platform in May 1998. Soldiers in three helicopters fired upon him and about 200 other demonstrators.

Lawsuits Target Energy Giants: Nigeria I — Wiwa v. Shell

By Jennifer Huang | World Power I: Business & Law

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Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited (SPDC) is the largest oil corporation in Nigeria, producing about a million barrels daily in 2001, according to the Department of Energy — close to half of the country’s output. Last year, oil provided 95 percent of Nigeria’s foreign exchange earnings and nearly 80 percent of the government’s revenue. In 1998 it was Africa’s greatest oil producer, and the fifth largest crude exporter to the United States. Despite this extraordinary wealth, Nigeria usually has to import gasoline because of its inadequate, ill-functioning refinery infrastructure. In Wiwa v. Shell, filed in New York, plaintiffs accuse the petroleum company of conspiring with the military tribunal that hanged Nigerian playwright and author Ken Saro-Wiwa, along with eight other activists who were organizing opposition to Royal Dutch Shell operations in their native Ogoniland on the delta of the Niger River.