PRESS RELEASE: Niger Delta communities will suffer the impacts of proposed increases to gas production without better safeguards in place

SDN today releases research that highlights the risks associated with increasing gas production in Nigeria. Expansion is expected due to domestic energy plans, and increased demand from Europe and others, following Russia’s war in Ukraine. This will have profound impacts for oil and gas producing communities in the Niger Delta, and the Nigerian economy as a whole. It raises important questions for the global energy transition that are often overlooked, including the negative impacts in producing countries.

The expansion could benefit Nigeria, as it seeks to increase domestic gas consumption as part of development targets, and as a transition fuel towards more sustainable electricity generation. But if countries achieve net zero commitments, global gas demand could peak as soon as 2030, according to McKinsey. Nigeria must proceed with caution, to avoid redirecting resources away from more sustainable infrastructure, delaying the clean energy transition, and deepening dependence on fossil fuels, which could result in stranded assets and debt that will be difficult to repay as demand and prices fluctuate.

Moreover, in the Niger Delta where most hydrocarbons are extracted, there are significant risks if companies continue to operate without due care, under the current system of weak enforcement of standards and regulations. Our research contains reports of negative health and economic impacts for communities living near gas infrastructure, and with expansion, they are likely to experience more negative impacts due to exposure to gas and other hazardous wastes, compounding decades of oil pollution. In communities surrounding a Nigerian Agip Oil Company (NAOC) facility – a subsidiary of the Italian major Eni – our research documented the following:

● Visible gas leaks along pipelines that are generally poorly installed, not sufficiently maintained, run overground, and alongside roads and settlements. When we re-visited gas leak sites six months later, leaks continued, in spite of visible attempts to patch them up. There was also an explosion at the gas facility during research, which is reportedly common.
● Slow responses to gas leaks and blowouts by NAOC and the government regulators, and poor techniques to stop leaking infrastructure, and mitigate future issues.
● Constant gas flaring, which contributes towards toxic air, water and land. The community also claims that NAOC dumps toxic waste and has not decommissioned abandoned assets.
● Visibly polluted waterways, farmland, and air, which make it no longer economically productive for stable livelihoods of farming, fishing, and hunting.
● Complaints from communities who claim that NAOC’s corporate social responsibility projects are not delivered in full as promised, and when they are, they are not sustainable.
● Complaints from communities who claim they suffer severe health impacts, including cancers, eye, bronchial, rheumatic, neurological, cardiovascular, developmental, and reproductive disorders.

Commenting on the report, SDN’s Acting Country Director, Florence Ibok-Abasi said:

 “The health and environmental impacts associated with fossil fuel production have been documented for several decades but largely ignored in favour of profits. We are particularly concerned that an increase in demand for Nigeria’s gas resources will aggravate this situation and continue to deprive the country of a clean energy transition. The Nigerian government can no longer afford to pay lip service and must act to demonstrate its commitment to the provision of clean energy and economic diversification away from oil and gas”.



About SDN: Stakeholder Democracy Network (SDN) supports the efforts of those affected by the extractives industry and weak governance. We work with governments, companies, communities and other stakeholders to ensure the promotion and protection of human rights. Our work currently focuses on the Niger Delta, where SDN is an established voice with a presence spanning 19 years.

About the Report
This research analyses the possible impacts for Nigeria and the Niger Delta if it continues down the path of increasing gas production. 

The analysis aims to highlight Nigeria’s position within the current global gas situation. It covers Nigeria’s plans to increase international exports and domestic consumption, while meeting emissions and sustainable development targets. This highlights important risks associated with the short-term demand from Europe, borrowing to pay for infrastructure that may become stranded in a net zero economy, and tackling existing barriers to production in Nigeria’s oil and gas industry. 

The research includes a case study of communities living in the shadow of an existing gas facility. It is an example of the current state of the gas industry’s infrastructure, and its impacts on host communities, which highlights the risks of further expansion. We documented issues with the standard of facilities, response to leaks, community relations, and severe impacts to health, economy, and environment. 

We hope that this analysis motivates the Federal Government of Nigeria, international countries seeking gas, and the oil and gas industry to regulate and proceed with caution. We hope that they properly assess the risks involved with gas expansion, and create a strategy to minimise the impacts, maximise the benefits, phase out oil and gas assets, and plan for a post-fossil fuel future.

Media contact: Solace Ojotule Okeyi: Communications Officer, SDN +44 (0)7565374462

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