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Communities Sue Chevron and Exxon to Stop Nigerian Gas Flaring

Posted Nov. 7, 2008 / Posted by: admin


Footage and photographs available – see below

[ LAGOS , NIGERIA ]/[Washington, DC], 20th June 2005 -- Communities from across the Niger Delta, with the support of Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA), have today filed a legal action against the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Shell, Exxon, Chevron, Total and Agip to stop gas flaring. More gas is flared in Nigeria than anywhere else in the world, and flaring in the country contributes more greenhouse gas emissions than all other sources in sub-Saharan Africa combined.  

The cocktail of toxic substances emitted in the flares for more than 40 years, including benzene and particulates, has exposed Niger Delta communities to severe health risks and property damage, in violation of their (constitutionally guaranteed) human rights.

Moreover, flaring has been in general prohibited under environmental regulations since 1984, unless a ministerial consent has been lawfully issued and conditions have been met. Despite requests by ERA, no consents or conditions have been disclosed by any of the charged companies.

The annual financial loss to Nigeria from flared gas has been put at about US $2.5 billion, while about two-thirds of the population of almost 129 million are estimated by the World Bank to live on less than US $1 a day.

The filing of the case is supported by today’s release of a 36-page report entitled “Gas Flaring in Nigeria : A human rights, environmental and economic monstrosity”, written by the Climate Justice Programme and Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria. The report is available online at:


or at http://www.foe.org/camps/intl/gasnigeria.pdf

For an Executive Summary in English, French and Italian please see:

English: http://www.foei.org/publications/climate/gasnigeria.html

French: http://www.foei.org/fr/publications/climate/gasnigeria.html

Italian: http://www.foei.org/publications/climate/gasnigeriait.html


Quotes from community leaders and campaigners:

Comrade Che Ibegwura from Erema, an Egi community in Rivers State said:

“For many years, we have been living with continuous flaring of gas from TotalFinaElf. Our farmlands have been polluted. We labour hard to plant but little comes out. Our roofs are corroded. Our air is polluted. Our children are sick. Even the rainwater we drink is contaminated with black soot from the gas flares. We cannot continue with this suffering. We need to take legal action to protect ourselves, our children and our future.”

Tare Dadiowei from Gbarain community in Bayelsa State commented:

“It is our hope that the laws of Nigeria will protect us from the continuous violations of our human rights and destruction of our livelihood by Shell. While Shell makes cheap excuses for the continuing flaring of gas in our communities, we bear the huge costs with our contaminated air and soil, diseases and death”

Reverend Nnimmo Bassey, Executive Director of Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria, described the filing of the legal case as:

“a major step in our collective effort as citizens of Nigeria to make oil and gas corporations and the government behave responsibly. For too long we have witnessed the atrocious flaring of associated gas by profiteering oil corporations that hold the people in utmost contempt. We are calling on the law to defend our impoverished citizens”.

Peter Roderick, co-Director of the Climate Justice Programme said:

“As the G8 prepares to discuss climate change and Africa , Nigerian gas flaring provides them with an outrageous example of the problems. It is a shameful and indefensible stain on the reputation of western oil companies. The appalling waste of greenhouse gases in one of the world poorest countries is a violation of the human rights of those subjected to the flaring. It is astonishing that it continues on such a scale when Nigerian regulations have prohibited the practice in general since 1984.”    

Michelle Medeiros, Campaigner with Friends of the Earth US :

"It is undeniable that gas flaring poses great risks to public health and the natural environment. Despite these clear risks, oil companies continue this practice. For example, just last month, Shell announced that it would go back on its commitment to end gas flaring by 2008. By doing so, large oil companies are endangering people's lives and futures, and it can no longer be tolerated."

Photos and video footage from the Niger Delta are available from Friends of the Earth in Washington , DC . Please contact Dick Bell, Media Director, at 202.222.0742.

Photographs of the flaring are also freely downloadable, without watermarks, from these sites:




IN THE USA , Friends of the Earth USA , Washington DC

Michelle Medeiros
+ 1 202 222 0717 (office)
+ 1 202 321 1510 (mobile)

IN NIGERIA , Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria :

Asume Osuoka ( Port Harcourt )
+234 84 236365

The action was filed this morning 20th June 2005 in the Federal High Court of Nigeria in Benin City . The communities bringing the action include Rumuekpe, Akala-Olu, Erema and Idama ( Rivers State ); Ewherekan ( Delta State ); Eket ( Akwa Ibom State ); and Imiringi and Gbarain ( Bayelsa State ).

Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria is dedicated to the defence of human ecosystems in terms of human rights, and to the promotion of environmentally responsible governmental, commercial, community and individual practice in Nigeria through the empowerment of local people: www.eraction.org

The Climate Justice Programme is an initiative hosted by Friends of the Earth International to encourage and support the enforcement of the law internationally to combat climate change. Over 70 organizations and lawyers are signatories to its Statement of Support, including Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, WWF and organizations based in developing countries: www.climatelaw.org

Shell gas flares at Kolo Creek Niger Delta. Click photo to enlarge.
Copyright: Peter Roderick


Full Report

Court Document


IN THE USA , Friends of the Earth USA , Washington DC

Michelle Medeiros
+ 1 202 222 0717 (office)
+ 1 202 321 1510 (mobile)

IN NIGERIA , Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria :

Asume Osuoka ( Port Harcourt )
+234 84 236365


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