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Thursday, June 13, 2024

Oil Companies’ Spills Devastate Niger Delta Communities

In the span of eight years, oil companies, including Shell, Nigerian Agip Oil Company Limited (NAOC), and the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL), have released over 36.1 million litres of crude oil into the water, farmlands, and seas of Nigeria’s Niger Delta.

This alarming data, obtained from the Nigerian Oil Spill Monitor under the National Oil Spill Detection and Rescue Agency, reveals a troubling trend of environmental degradation.

Between 2016 and 2023, there were 1,596 instances where International Oil Companies (IOCs) and independent producers concealed the quantities of spills.

Notably, stakeholders are now urging for an environmental remediation fund and a halt on divestment activities.

Local producers, particularly, have been implicated in the increasing cases, with 247,527 barrels poured into inland waters since 2016. The Ororo oil well in Ondo has been spilling crude since 2020.

The impact on biodiversity is severe, with more than 75% of spills directly entering the sea, swamp, and land, exacerbating the challenges faced by thousands of farmers and fishermen already grappling with poverty and climate crises.

Additionally, 25% of the spills have destroyed inland water sources crucial for community drinking.This dire situation coincides with oil companies’ divestment plans and escalating legal conflicts between communities and oil firms, particularly regarding the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) report on the Ogoniland clean-up, which remains unimplemented.

As Nigerian oil companies acquire assets from multinational corporations, concerns are mounting, prompting stakeholders to call for robust policies addressing environmental issues.

While multinational corporations like Shell, NOAC, Chevron, and others dominate the spill chart according to NOSDRA’s data, independent oil companies such as Aiteo, Seplat, Midwestern, First E&P, Eroton, and others taking over divested assets are being criticized for the surge in spills.

Some stakeholders allege government complicity, pointing out that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has shares and revenue across oil blocks.The breakdown of spills in barrels over the years shows a worrying pattern, with 2023 recording 12,274 spills, 2022 at 45,836, 2021 at 22,318, 2020 at 21,110, 2019 at 39,345, 2018 at 28,827, 2017 at 35,076, and 2016 at 42,741.

Throughout this period, 247,527 barrels of oil, valued at $19.8 million, were spilled, underscoring the substantial cost of environmental cleanup that lies ahead.

Particularly alarming is the fact that over 246,927 barrels went into the open sea, swamp, and land, further exacerbating the environmental crisis, while over 600 barrels entered streams and rivers, critical water sources for local communities.

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