Oil extraction disaster in the Niger Delta

  • Bayelsa, in the Niger Delta, in Southern Nigeria, is in the grip of a human and environmental catastrophe of unimaginable proportions.
  • At one time, the area was home to one of the largest mangrove forests on the planet; an area of unrivalled ecological value.
  • Today, it is one of the most polluted places on Earth.
  • Oil extraction and its impact is the overwhelmingly evident cause of this disaster.

For over 60 years, international oil companies and the Nigerian Federal Government have rushed to extract billions of barrels of oil from the Niger Delta with scant regard for the consequences. The result has been a catastrophic disaster. Tens of thousands of oil spills, unrestricted gas flaring, and frequent releases of toxic contaminants have poisoned people’s farmlands, the water they drink, and even the air they breathe.

The Niger Delta Image credit CIA Maps

A new report entitled CREATING CHANGE: A PLAN TO END BAYELSA’S POLLUTION CRISIS, has been released by the Bayelsa State Oil and Environmental Commission.

This Commission’s findings shine light on the pollution catastrophe engulfing the state and its underlying causes. Chief among them are the systemic failings of international oil company operators with the complicity of Nigeria’s political classes and a dysfunctional Nigerian regulatory state. While the state accounts for only slightly over 1 percent of Nigeria’s total population, it is estimated to have suffered over a quarter of total recorded instances of oil pollution. The environmental, ecological and health consequences on the Niger Delta as a whole and on the people of Bayelsa have been catastrophic. They have suffered in silence for too long.

The Commission recommends concerted international action to generate and invest at least US $12 billion over the course of 12 years to repair, remediate and restore the environmental and public health damage caused by oil and gas and to lay the foundations for Bayelsa’s just transition towards renewable energy and opportunities for alternative livelihoods.

40 percent of mangrove forest has been lost since oil production began, contaminated waters are a common sight.

Nigeria’s oil wells are operated primarily by large International Oil and Gas Companies (IOCs) rather than by the state-owned national oil company, the Nigeria National Petroleum Company (NNPC). The five main IOCs – Shell, Chevron, Total, Exxon-Mobil and Eni (Agip) – NAOC (Eni operates through its subsidiary known as the Nigerian Agip Oil Company locally referred to as Agip, which is the former name of Eni) – working through a mix of wholly- owned subsidiaries and joint ventures with NNPC, together account for c.75 percent of the oil extracted in Nigeria.

Link to the full report HERE 

Author: Bryan Groenendaal

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