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Power for peace in the Niger Delta

Establishing a community gas-bottling company to reduce local pollution, generate income, and reduce violence in the Niger Delta.

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Explain your project idea (2,000 characters)

The project would establish and train a community-run company to run a gas bottling and distribution business. It would allow communities to tap into the potential of the numerous gas ‘flaring’ sites around the Niger Delta, which burn off gas associated with the production of crude oil. The project would create jobs, improve household health, and repair community relationships with government and oil companies. If successful, it could be replicated elsewhere. The gas compression units necessary for the project can be prefabricated based on specific needs and then plugged in on site. There is a ready-made market, as power distribution networks function intermittently in urban areas, while they do not exist at all in rural areas, where the majority of the region’s inhabitants live, and want for electricity. The gas wasted by flaring in the Niger Delta is enough to generate 27,000 MW – almost ten times the current capacity of all Nigerian power plants. Towns and villages could bottle this and sell it for power generation, transportation fuel, and cooking that is cleaner than using kerosene or diesel. This would be extremely positive in a region which faces a range of complex, connected challenges. These include armed criminal and political violence, a lack of socioeconomic development, and serious environmental degradation. The environmental challenges are acute, and together they form one of the factors that contribute to the area’s ongoing instability. Thousands of barrels of crude oil are spilt, and millions of cubic square feet of gas are flared each year. Gas flare issues are well known in the Niger Delta. They release sulphur into the air, causing acid rain that is harmful to humans and the environment. They contribute to global climate change, and create serious light pollution. And they waste an enormous amount of potential to generate income and power, which communities face a chronic shortage of, despite sitting on huge energy reserves.

Who are the beneficiaries? (1,000 characters)

Our beneficiaries are: - Young men (in particular) in the pilot region who are potential recruits for the artisanal oil refining industry. This involves the theft and informal, or ‘artisanal’, refining of crude oil from pipelines and other oil infrastructure. This has led to armed criminality, and is also one of the causes of the soot and health crisis in the Niger Delta. - Women and girls who currently make a living by drying tapioca in the heat given off by the gas flares, but which consequently damages their health. - Members of Ogboinbiri community, Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of Bayelsa State, within the target market area for the pilot community business. If supported to switch from kerosene or diesel to gas generators, they will have a cleaner, healthier and cheaper source of electricity.

How is your idea unique? (1,000 characters)

SDN's local experience means we could deal with issues such as co-location - when flare sites are located in the same area as oil drilling sites. Communities have been reluctant to support gas commercialisation because they perceive that those using the gas should also be responsible for dealing with legacy problems caused by the oil infrastructure. This project would carry out a targeted sensitisation, seeking to ensure support by demonstrating the benefits of engaging. Oil companies would be approached to provide gas to the project, as the solution could support a stable environment for their operations. Even if the project had to pay, early forecasting shows that it would be profitable. This would bridge all three Bridge Builder areas: prosperity by providing sustainable income and energy, the planet by reducing the pollution from gas flaring and artisanal oil refining, and peace by supporting the development of beneficial relations between communities and oil companies.

Idea Proposal Stage (choose one)

  • Prototype: I have done some small tests or experiments with prospective users to continue developing the idea.

Tell us more about your organization/company (1 sentence and website URL)

Stakeholder Democracy Network is a community empowerment and human rights organisation which supports local people affected by the extractives industry in the Niger Delta.

Expertise in sector

  • 7+ years

Organization Filing Status

  • Yes, we are a registered company.

In 3-4 sentences, tell us the inspiration or story that encouraged you to start this project.

In dialogue with militant groups the Nigerian Government identified ‘modular’ oil refineries as an employment-based solution to the area's problems. But the roll-out has stalled, and the major beneficiary would be industry. In parallel dialogue with militants and artisanal oil refiners, SDN identified that providing industry-related employment has significant potential to address conflict, and pilot research shows willingness for those engaged in conflict to participate in this type of project.

Please explain how your selected topic areas are influenced, in the local context of your project (1,000 characters).

Peace is influenced by decades of poor relations between the oil industry and communities host to its infrastructure. They consider that they suffer the disadvantages but see none of the benefit. This is partly why they do not necessarily object to youth involvement in artisanal oil refining, which the government has tried to use violence to eradicate, further deepening mistrust. Planet is influenced by serious environmental degradation. Extreme pollution of land and water – the source of economic activity for millions of the Niger Delta’s inhabitants – has ruined livelihoods and had a disturbing impact on health indices in the region. This is a core grievance for many. Prosperity is influenced by the lack of jobs, partly because many rely on farming and fishing (negatively impacted by pollution, as above), and partly because oil is capital but not labour-intensive, and so there is little benefit to communities, who also see the majority of revenue sent to central government.

Who will work alongside your organization in the project idea? (1,000 characters)

The project would aim to establish and train a community-run company to manage the gas compression facility and distribution business. We will approach a company we have already identified near Port Harcourt, the energy capital of the Niger Delta, and which has experience in the gas compression and distribution industry on a large scale, to explore options to provide expertise to the community run company. The major oil and gas company currently operating in the community would be approached to provide gas supply to the project. The solution could reduce local hostility towards the company in the area – increasing its social licence to operate, an increasingly important factor in investment and corporate decision-making – and so informing the improvement of its, and others', future corporate social responsibility projects in the communities that host their activities.

Please share some of the top strengths identified in the community which your project will serve (500 characters)

It has a well-structured leadership to make decisions and help provide accountability. There is a stable Paramount Ruler, Council of Chiefs, Community Development Council, Youth Group and Women’s Group. The community has addressed artisanal refining in the immediate vicinity, with these leadership structures coming together to remove young people from the practice. The challenge is to create a sustainable alternative that will keep these individuals out of the industry and prevent new entrants.

Geographic Focus

The project will be located in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of Bayelsa state.

How many months are required for the project idea? (500 characters)

The project would take 12 months until fully operational, that is for the community-based company to be trained and capable of operating the facility, distribution and management of the business.

Did you submit this idea to our 2017 BridgeBuilder Challenge? (Y/N)

  • No

If Yes, how has project idea changed, grown, or evolved since last year? (2,000 characters)

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Attachments (2)

Nigerian Gas Flare Tracker Briefing Document.pdf

This is a briefing on a specialised GIS tool SDN helped develop to enable the Nigerian government and civil society to monitor the extent of gas flaring across the Niger Delta.

Communities Not Criminals.pdf

This key SDN research report was one of the first to try and understand illegal oil refining in the Niger Delta not as naked criminality, but as a response to the area's complex underlying challenges of poor governance, catastrophic environmental damage, and a lack of meaningful economic opportunities for (especially young) people in the region.


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