The Anglo-Dutch oil giant, Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) has dismissed the fear of the people of Opolo community that it was planning to ignite a new gas flare furnace at Opolo in the outskirts of Yenagoa the Bayelsa State capital.
Environmental Rights Action (ERA) had raised alarm of an alleged plan by the Anglo-Dutch oil giant to start a new furnace in the community.
The plan, according to the group, is coming on the heel of last year flare furnace ignited at Gbarantoru community some distance away from the Gbaran-Ubie Gas Gathering Plant which was immediately put off following alleged international condemnation.
According to ERA, the new furnace site is located along the Tombia/Amassoma road, approximately less than 200 meters from the massive refuse dump site along the road which has been subject of controversy and complaints from the public traveling to the Niger Delta University and the state School of Nursing.
ERA field monitors led by the state programme coordinator, Alagoa Morris said the stake around the horizontal furnace was almost completed.
The environmental group had quoted the Opolo Community Development Committee Chairman (CDC) Mr. Nengibo Moneyman as saying â€œYes, we are aware that Shell is about to flare gas in our environment.
â€œWe have been hosts to Shell for long and we have several oil wells within our environment. What we were told about this particular well is that, it contained only gas and that, while extracting the gas, they will flare also.â€
â€œThe on-going preparation by Shell to start a new gas flare at Opolo community environment when stopping gas flare talks are in vogue means that Shell does not mean well for the people of the Niger Delta and Nigeria in general.
â€œThe implication in terms of climate change, health and economic waste (including the effect on roofing sheets, plants and bodies of water) is very grave,â€ ERA said and called on the federal government to take step to halt this project.
â€œIt is the duty of every responsible government to protect the lives and property of her citizens. All well meaning individuals and groups should stand on the side of reason and raise their voices high on the matter, especially environmental groups; as the act is illegal, wasteful and hazardous. Such display of impunity by Shell makes the issue of ‘Leave the Oil/Gas in the Soil’ more demanding,â€ the group lamented.
Also reacting to the alleged plan to start a new gas flare, Bubraye Dakolo whose community (Gbarantoru) falls within the radius of communities that will be impacted by the gas flare said, â€œI want to thank ERA immensely for keeping and watching our environment. This indiscriminate flaring of gas in and around Gbarantoru is very vexing. It only confirms that SPDC has no value for our health and lives.
â€œThe whole world should rise against SPDC, condemn these devilish acts and sanction the company. Note, the wind direction is to our homes. As expected, the gas, if Shell is allowed to flare, will impact several communities in the environment.â€
However the oil major described ERA’s claim as unfounded.
The oil major spokesman, Precious Okolobo said â€œSPDC can confirm it has no plans to flare any gas at Opolo.â€