BRIEF HISTORY OF OIL EXPLORATION AND EXPLOITATION ACTIVITIES IN GELEGELE (GELEGELE-GBENE)
In 1956, a team of Europeans, Oil (Black Gold) magnates in the form of the Anglo-Dutch Oil Giant, Shell D’Archy, now Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) arrived Gelegele (Gelegele-gbene) to explore for Oil having obtained Oil exploration license from the then Colonial Government in Nigeria. After a brief exploration for Oil in Gelegele, Shell D’Archy left. In 1963 another Oil Company, Phillips Oil Company (Nig) Limited, a subsidiary of Phillips 66 of Houston, Texas, and San Francisco, California, U.S.A arrived Gelegele (Gelegele-gbene) having obtained license from the Government of Nigeria, to explore for Oil in OML 96. Phillips Oil Company made a huge and stunning discovery of a large and commercial deposit of Oil and Gas at Gelegele Oil field which was described by the Nigerian Press as a “Sea of Oil”. Oil exploration and exploitation activities were temporarily put on hold in Gelegele Oil Field as a result of the Nigerian Civil War between 1966 –1970. At the end of the civil war, Phillips Oil Company (Nig) Ltd returned to Gelegele Oil Field and started Oil Production. In 1979, Phillips Oil Company (Nig) Ltd built its Flow Station at Gelegele (Gelegele-gbene) and started the production of Crude Oil.
Christmas Tree/Well Head @ GG1
Oil Drilling Rig Site @ GG8
Cardinal Rig 101
In 1987, Phillips Oil Company (Nig) Ltd, divested and re-assigned its Oil facility, Oil interest and entire Gelegele Oil Field and OML 96 to Dubri Oil Company Ltd, which has operated Gelegele Oil Field and OML 96 till date at Gelegele (Gelegele-gbene) Community.
THE CHALLENGES OF OIL EXPLORATION AND EXPLOITATION IN GELEGELE (GELEGELEGBENE) COMMUNTY.
A CRITICAL ANALYSIS
Oil Exploration and Exploitation activities started in Gelegele Community in 1963, with Philips Oil Company (Nig) Ltd. Philips Oil Company re-assigned its facilities and the entire OML 96 in Gelegele Oil field to Dubri Oil Company Ltd and fortunately, the same man who was the Managing Director of Phillips Oil Company – Dr. U.J. Itsueli became the proud owner of Dubri Oil Company Ltd in 1987. Dubri Oil Company Ltd produces its Oil from several Oil Wells in Gelegele Oil field with its Gas flare and Flow station located at the heart of Gelegele Community within close proximity to residential buildings. The production of crude Oil and Flaring of gas at Gelegele by Dubri Oil Company Ltd has had a far reaching impact on Gelegele and all the adjoining communities within the Gelegele Oil Field. For the purpose of a clearer understanding of the situation, we shall look at the impact of Oil operations at Gelegele under the following subheadings.
Oil Exploration & Exploitation @ Gelegele Oil field by Dubri Oil Coy Ltd.
- HEALTH IMPACT.
- ACID RAIN/SOCIO – ECONOMIC IMPACT
- CLIMATE CHANGE - ECOLOGICAL IMPACT.
- NOISE/VIBRATION IMPACT.
Our analysis in this website is based on information obtained from
- The Executive Summary Of The Final Draft Of Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Report For The Re-Location Of The Flare Stack/Site Of Dubri Oil Company Limited (DOCL) Flow station Within The Gilligilli Field On OML96, Edo State, DOCL, HSE Dept. DOCL June 2000.
- Other Literatures, Publications and Journals on Medicine, Science and Environment Etc.
- Field Visit to Gelegele Community and the Adjoining Communities.
Dubri Oil Company (DOCL) Gas Flare produces particulate matters and combustion by-products such as Sulphur dioxide – SO2, Nitrogen oxide – NO2 and other Carcinogenic and mutagenic fractions like: Benzepryene, kerosene, benzene, Toluene, Dioxin (olefins), xylene and Hydrogen sulphides. The Canadian Public Health Association has noted that over 250 identified toxins are associated with gas flaring. Other very toxic and poisonous pollutants including the Green House Gases; Carbon dioxide (CO2), Methane, Ethane, Propane, Butane, Pentane plus. Smoke from the gas flare can cause aerosol effect. A significant proportion of inert gases, Nitrogen and Helium are also produced, carbon monoxide is also produced which also contribute to global warming and subsequently Global climatic change. The tropospheric Ozone (O3) produced, causes haze or visibility impairment resulting from photo chemicals smog.
From The Executive Summary Of Dubri Oil Company Ltd, Draft Environmental Impact Assessment (Eia) Report 2000 For The Re-Location Of The Flare Stack/ Site, it is recorded that the following Particulate matters or gaseous oxide are produced into the Gelegele environment at a varying huge quantities. See table 1 below:
It should be noted that Gas flares in Gelegele is about 800,000m3/day of Associated Gas (AG) and Non-Associated Gas – source, UNDP/World Bank Energy Sector Management Assistance Programme (ESMAP) Strategic Gas Plant for Nigeria, February 2004, Appendix 3 table A.3.3.(Niger Delta Gas Production Survey).
Table 1: DOCL TOXIC (NOXIOUS, POISONOUS, HARMFUL) GAS PRODUCTION AT GELEGELE AS AT 2000
VOCS = Volatile Organic Compounds.
NOTE: We are sure the concentration of these noxious gases in the Gelegele environment since 2000 till now must have increased exponentially.
Carbon monoxide (CO), Oxides of Nitrogen (NO) and volatile organic compound (VOCS) according to the Intergovernmental panel on climate change (IPCC) are “reactive”. The three of them produces tropospheric ozone (O3) which increases climate change.
Exposures of humans to these particulate matters at a distance of 1,325m (1.325km) at a concentration of 0.23µg/m3 and Benzene at a distance of 5,000m (5km) at a concentration of 0.025µg/m3 could cause death/sickness.
Experts, (Canadian researchers, Alberta Canada), United States Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) have found that exposure of humans to the above particulate matter at a distance of 1,325m and at very low concentration could cause the following Health impact.
- Premature death
- Respiratory illnesses
- Decreased lung function
- Spontaneous abortion or miscarriages
Other diseases suffered by exposure of persons to gaseous components and Crude Oil are:-
- Dermatitis or skin cancer
- Cardio-pulmonary diseases
- Difficult or painful breathing
- Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Type II Diabetes
- Chronic bronchitis
Gas Flare at the heart of Gelegele Community
Environmental Hazard @ Gelegele
Thus Gelegele people suffer death and all the above diseases as a result of Gas Flare and Crude Oil exposure. The Oil Company flare stack/site is located at the Center of Gelegelegbene Community, within close proximity to dwelling houses.
From the same, Dubri Oil Company Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report 2000 for the re-location of the flare stack/site at Gelegele, Edo State, recorded that the temperature of Gelegele and its adjoining communities increased to 35.4oC. This is equivalent to the scourging temperature of the Sahara desert in Aghades in Niger Republic during the dry season. This kind of temperature increase occasioned, gas flare does not only affect human but also the vegetation, wild life and aquatic lives. This unusually high temperature leads to migration of wild lives and aquatic lives from Gelegele and its adjoining communities.
The distance of the Gas flare stack to the farthest residential building in Gelegelegbene is less than 600m and the closest residential building at Gelegele to the DOCL flare stack is about 20m. For an exposure to this flare impact of Gelegele people, houses and the entire environment, for a time period of over 30years, leaves the entire Gelegelegbene community destroyed, houses fallen, etc. Gelegele is facing extinction.
ACID RAIN/SOCIO-ECONOMIC IMPACT: The particulate matters such as SO2, NO2 etc. produced from the Oil Company, gas flare combines with atmospheric water to produce acid such as Sulphuric Acid (H2SO4) and Nitric Acid (HNO3).
According to the said Dubri Oil Company Ltd Environmental impact Assessment (EIA) report 2000 for the re-location of the flare stack/site in Gelegele, the pH of the rainfall in Gelegele and the acidity of the soil is 3.83. According to the Nigeria Meteorological Agency NIMET, the normal pH of rain water is 5.6. It therefore shows that the rainfall in Gelegele and the surface water body is very acidic and unsafe for human consumption. Yet the Gelegele people drink from the surface water body at Kalapou, Ikpiri-kpiri and Toru-kubu River in Gelegele. Also because of the acidic nature of the water bodies at Gelegele, the aquatic lives (Fishes and Reptiles) have either migrated or are extinct. The Acidic nature of the soil has reduced agricultural productivity. Of course there is also the regular spillages of Crude Oil into the river which has greatly destroyed fishes and other marine lives. There is poverty untold at Gelegele as a result of migration of wildlife and aquatic lives and low agricultural yield occasioned by Oil Exploration and Exploitation.
Acid rains in Gelegele are responsible for the decline and die-back of forest trees. Another costly impact of acid rain in Gelegele is the accelerated weathering of building materials especially marble and concrete. Metal too corrodes at faster rate at Gelegele because of their exposition to acid rain.
The Acid rain on the corrugated roofing sheet corrodes the roofing sheets. The roofing sheets are made of oxides of zinc and Aluminium. When Sulphuric acid or Nitric Acid combines with Zinc or Aluminium Oxide, the result is the decay of the roofing sheet. This decay or corrosion in the roofing sheets leads to leakages and eventual collapse of the buildings at Gelegele.
CLIMATE CHANGE IMPACT
Flaring of associated gas produces Carbon-dioxide (CO2) and venting of methane (CH4) which is the main Green House Gases (GHG). It is a known scientific fact that the over concentration of Green House Gases in the atmosphere reduces the stratospheric Ozone (layer) and increases the tropospheric Ozone layer. As the thickness of stratospheric and tropospheric Ozone layer changes, ultra-violet radiation, which is an invisible radiation, reaches the earth surface. The increase in global temperature is known as global warming. As the earth gets warmed, the climatic conditions of the globe also changes.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) – a Scientific body setup by the United Nations (UN) and the World Meteorological Organization to consider climate changes, in its 2001 Third Assessment Report said that the global average surface temperature increased by about 0.6C over the 20th Century that it was 66 – 90% confident that most of the observed warming over the second half of the century was due to the increase in Green House Gases concentration, and projected that the temperature would increase from 1970 – 2100 by 1.4 to 5.8oC. It also stated that global mean sea level is projected to rise by 0.09 to 0.88 meters between 1990 and 2100 due primarily to thermal expansion and loss of mass from glaciers and Polar Ice-caps.
In July, 2003, Sir John Houghton, formerly co-chair of IPCC Scientific Assessment working Group and Chief Executive of the United Kingdom’s Meteorological Office said that:
“The impact of global warming is such that we have no hesitation in describing it as weapon of mass destruction”.
NOISE AND VIBRATION IMPACT
The flare stack which is located within a close proximity to residential buildings in Gelegele makes great vibration sound/noise. This vibration sound/noise is very deafening. This vibration sound/noise also has an earth shaking effect. This creates crack and breakage in the buildings which eventually collapses. The vibration noise/sound of the flare stack leads to migration of wildlife and aquatic lives. In paragraph 2.1 of the EIA Studies of 2000, it is stated that “the heat and noise generated from the gas flaring impacts negatively on people working in the flow station and nearby GiliGili Communities”. Most people in Gelegele now have hearing problem as a result of the vibration/noise of the gas flare.
“The concentration of the noxious (toxic, harmful, poisonous) gases recorded is CO2 = 105µg/m3, NO2 = 1.4µg/m3 ,
Sox = 12.7 µg/m3 H2S = 0.35 µg/m3, VOCS = 54.6µg/m3
Therefore, Gelegele Community directly or indirectly lost its existence to Oil Explorations and Exploitations and we are tirelessly working head with Governmental and Non-Governmental Agencies to put a stop to Gas Flaring in Gelegele community and Niger Delta at large.