Oil Spillage: Effects And Environmental Impact


Oil Spillage: Effects And Environmental Impact In Nigeria


1.1 Background of the Study


The oil and gas industry is truly global, with operations conducted in every corner of the globe, from Alaska to Australia, from Peru to China, and in every habitat from Arctic to desert, from tropical rainforest to temperate woodland, from mangrove (as is the case in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria) to offshore. The global community will rely heavily on oil and gas supplies for the foreseeable future. World primary energy consumption in 1994 stood at nearly 8000 million tonnes of oil equivalents; oil and gas represented 63 per cent of world energy supply, with coal providing 27 per cent, nuclear energy 7 percent and hydro-electric 3 per cent (BP Statistical Review of World Energy, June 1995).

The exploitation of oil and gas reserves has not always been without some ecological side effects. The challenge is to meet world energy demands, whilst minimizing adverse impact on the environment by conforming to current good practice. Oil spills, damaged land, accidents and  fires, and incidents of air and water pollution have all been recorded at various times and places. In recent times the social impact of operations, especially in remote communities, has also attracted attention. The oil and gas industry has worked for a long time to meet the challenge of providing environmental protection. Much has already been achieved but the industry recognizes that even more can be accomplished (Adati, 2012).

The United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) held in Rio de Janeiro in June 1992—‗The Earth Summit‘—focused world attention on the close links that exist between the environment and socioeconomic development. The Summit reviewed global environmental issues and resulted in two conventions (the Framework Convention on Climate


Change and the Convention on Biological Diversity), as well as the Rio Declaration and Agenda 21—plan of action. The central message of Agenda 21 is one of interdependence and cross sector partnership, and the plan of action provided a new approach to the wide-ranging socio-economic and environmental challenges facing the world community.

It is no news that Nigeria is one of the leading oil producers in the World, and that the fragile Niger Delta region is the seat bench (or hub) of oil and gas production of the country. Presently, 90% of Nigeria‘s gross domestic product (GDP) comes from revenues accruing from crude oil sales (Zabbey, 2012).

The  World  Bank  estimated  that  the  oil  sector  accounts  for  95%  of  Nigeria  export  earnings and 85% of the governments revenues as of 2009. Currently in 2010 the International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimates that the oil sector accounts for over 95% of Nigeria export earnings and about 65% of the government‘s revenue. According to Oil and Gas Journal (OGJ), Nigeria has an estimated 36.2 billion barrels of proven oil reserves as of January 2010. The majority of the reserves located along the Niger Delta River, offshore Bright of Benin, gulf of Guinea and the Bright of Bonny. The current exploration activities focused in deep and ultra-deep offshore and some activities in the Chad Basin located northwest of Nigeria (Ukoli, 2005).

In 2008, Nigeria‘s crude oil production averaged 1.94 million bbl/d making it the largest oil producer in Africa with current production slightly over 2.2 million bbl/d as of 2009. Also, Energy Information Association (EIA) estimated that Nigeria‘s production could have reached

2.7 million barrels/day (bbl/d). Recent offshore developments combined with the restart of some shut-in onshore production have boosted crude oil production to an average 2.03 million bbl/d as of 2010 (Adati, 2012).

The country operates a joint venture with the TNCs. The government, through the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), owns 55% share in the Joint Venture; SPDC 30%, ELF Petroleum Nigeria Limited (a subsidiary of TotalFina) 10% and Agip 5%. (Zabbey, 2005)


In recent times, however, production rates keep fluctuating due to insecurity occasioned by threats of local militias in the delta. As at 2005, Nigeria‘s daily production of crude oil reached 2.2 million barrels per day (b.p.d.) and was still on the increase (Adati, 2012).