Our greed for black gold has fatal consequences: in oil producing countries like Nigeria andRussia, oil companies are systematically burning off the natural gas that is produced as a by-product when drilling for oil. They do this to save money. It is a scandal that remainslargely hidden from the broader public. Companies like Shell, BP and Rosneft have for years been complicit in the current climate crisis.
The production of crude oil brings huge quantities of natural gas to the surface, but instead of using this valuable commodity, the companies just burn it off. And this despite the fact that natural gas has been flagged as one of the energy sources of the future and our fossil fuels are in ever shorter supply. The scope of this wastage is enormous: gas flaring, as it is called, burns through one third of Europe's totalnatural gas demand every year. This results in 400 million tonnes of greenhouse gases, corresponding to the CO2 emissions of all the cars in Germany,France and Great Britain combined. For the oil companies it is purely a matter of getting to the black gold faster. In Nigeria, it is the people who suffer most from the effects of gas flaring. There are many villages located right next to one of the gigantic flaring stations in the Niger Delta. The people here are breathing in
these poisonous gases, developing asthma and related illnesses and even cancer. Their crops are contaminated as a result of the heavy metals and the acid rain. But gas flaring is not restricted to Africa. Russia, Europe's most important oil supplier, is the world champion at wasting natural gas. Meaning that the European states that import from Russia are also contributing indirectly to the climate crisis. There is a simple solution: in Ecuador a state-run oil company is showing how it is possible to put this natural gas to use as an energy source and protect the climate at the same time.