"In the oil-rich Niger Delta region of Nigeria, petroleum companies use giant torches to burn off natural gas found with deposits of crude oil.
The decades-old industry practice, known as flaring, has long been criticized as wasteful and harmful to the environment because of the carbon dioxide it releases into the atmosphere. But more recently, flaring has become a lightning rod for protests and armed attacks by Nigerian locals, many of whom lack reliable access to electricity and the economic opportunities that go along with it.
Amid escalating unrest that has shut down production of more than one million barrels of oil a day at a cost of billions of dollars in lost revenue, interest is growing in a handful of pioneering power plants that use unwanted gas to provide electricity to communities near the oil fields. There is a push on to build more of them in the belief that the way to prevent the violence that has shaken the West African nation is to address underdevelopment in the Delta, where the wealth generated by oil has done little to improve the lives of residents, who subsist on an average of $2 a day."
Benoit Faucon reports for the Wall Street Journal October 19, 2009.