Location: Gbarantoru community in Yenagoa Local Government Area of Bayelsa State, Nigeria

Shell should not gas us to death  -Bubraye Dakolo


Gbarantoru community is an Ijaw town in Ekpetiama Kingdom of Yenagoa Local Government Area of Bayelsa State. It is located on the outskirts of Yenagoa, the State capital. Shell Petroleum Development Company has been operating in the community for many years. The Gbaran/Ubie Gas Gathering Plant is located here.


Shell’s commencement of a new gas flare at a time when the routine gas flaring has received global condemnation, and with the full knowledge that gas flaring is an illegal activity in Nigeria, is seen by the locals as an act of impunity and total disregard for their health. Gas flaring is a major contributor of global warming greenhouse gases. The commence this destructive activity a few weeks from the climate negotiations in Copenhagen indicates Shell’s disregard for the welfare of humanity and our climate.

Community people sent distress calls to ERA in the early hours of October 30, 2009 when the perceived that air was thick with gas and feared that an explosion may ensure. Their fear was heightened by the fact that the community is situated within the Gbaran/Ubie gas plant still under construction.


On arrival at the community shortly after receiving the call, a new gas flare releasing greenhouse gases, toxic chemicals and terrific noise into the environment greeted ERA monitors. Concerned community folks, including youths who were visibly disturbed by the development and led our monitors to the location a stone throw from residences.    


Mr Bubraye Dakolo described Shell’s action as irresponsible and callous:

By the emission and flaring of this noxious substance into our environment, Shell has decided to deny us an environment safe enough for our development. Without any notice the community was woken up rudely one night by this deafening sound you are hearing now. In fact I was in Yenagoa when I received several calls from my relations and other community folks concerning this gas flare. We are not only very apprehensive, we are aware of that gas flares are toxic. We are very uncomfortable with the situation. And as you can observe the flare point is just about a hundred and twenty meters from our living homes. This thing [flare] was not here last week. And, it shouldn’t be here either, for we are not talking about any benefits here; you don’t need to die to get benefits. Shell should not gas us to death. If we go through the main entrance now you will notice men of the Joint Task Force [JTF] there and, they will deny us access to the site.

Even as I speak with you now I am feeling a strange sensation around my forehead. We want Shell to relocate this gas flare from our environment. Luckily I was part of the Global Memorandum Of Understanding [GMOU] between Shell and the cluster of communities. And while discussing that document, there was no mention in any part that gas would be flared here in our community. What we know is that a gas gathering plant would be sited around here and that the product would be channelled to Bonny in Rivers State. So, why should Shell now gas us through the back?

Like you can observed we cannot hear each other now unless we raise our voices higher than normal due to the roaring, deafening sound from the gas flare furnace. It then means both speakers and listeners in the community would now be subjected to a new culture of shouting and straining of ears just to communicate with each other. And, you know what this means health-wise, even psychologically speaking. Apart from the huge economic waste in flaring gas, it is harmful to our health. If you also take a look at our roofs now you will notice that there is a heavy settlement of soot on them. From this too, you can see that we can no longer drink rainwater from our roofs. My mother is about 80 years old now and she is in the village. If this gas flare should continue, may be you will be invited soon to her funeral. So, what the people of this community are saying is that, Shell should not do this thing here; the company should relocate the gas flare, away from our environment.


My children woke up around 4:00 a.m that night when the flare started. They were coughing and feeling very uncomfortable. They almost choked. I almost had some kind of casualty in my house as a result of this gas flare. It was very sudden, without ant form of notice from Shell. As I talk to you now too, I am feeling a peppery sensation around my face. This is the 5th day since Shell lit the furnace. We are not happy with the development and we want Shell to relocate it from our territory. It is even affecting out nightlife, communication with each other and we are very much concerned about other negative effects of gas flares.


As a result of the roaring noise of the gas flare close to the community, ERA’s field monitor found it difficult to take statements from those willing to give testimonies. Every one speaking had to shout. It was a babel of voices. It was several aircrafts taking off at the same time.


Gas flaring is an illegal activity. It is negates the human rights of Nigerians. It is a wasteful activity.

1. Shell should stop the gas flare at Gbarantoru community. The people’s demand that the gas flare be halted should be respected.
2. The Federal and State governments should promptly take steps to save the people and environment of Gabarantoru and environs.
3. The people of Gbarantoru should initiate/ seek appropriate means of defending themselves and their environment.
4. Human/Environmental Rights groups all over the world should rise up in support of the demands of the Gbarantoru people.
5. Shell must not be allowed to poison the Gbarantoru community

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