New research on oil companies’ environmental emissions in the Niger Delta of Nigeria.
SDN’s new flagship report, the Nigerian environmental performance index (the Index), provides a comparison of the environmental performance of oil companies operating in the Niger Delta.
The highest oil spill and gas flare emissions tended to be generated by major international oil companies, as well as the state-owned oil company, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC)—but this is unsurprising, as they also tend to have higher production volumes. Contrary to the perception of some people living in the Niger Delta, local oil companies tended to have higher emissions relative to the volume of oil they produced. The Nigerian companies Express Petroleum and Summit Oil generated the highest emissions per barrel of oil produced.
A small number of companies were responsible for the majority of emissions: 92% of recorded oil spilled is attributable to just five companies (Aiteo, NAOC, Heritage, NNPC, and Shell), while 50% of gas flared is attributable to only two companies: ExxonMobil and NNPC.
Overall, the Nigerian oil industry compares poorly overall with oil industries in other countries and regions: the amount of oil spilled and gas flared by the Nigerian oil industry on a per-unit basis is far higher.
The research assessed both oil spilled and gas flared (burnt off) by over 40 companies during oil exploration and production in the Niger Delta during 2018, the latest year for which all relevant information is available. During 2018, more than 25,000 barrels—four million litres—of oil were spilled in the Niger Delta, and nearly half a billion cubic feet of gas was flared.
The first step to addressing the Niger Delta’s long-running environmental challenges is to understand the true scale of the problem. We hope that this detailed research will support renewed commitment by industry and government to addressing the concerns it raises.Jesse-Martin Manufor, SDN Senior Project Officer, Environment
Oil spills poison the land and water people depend on to survive. Air pollution from gas flaring has been linked to respiratory problems, and the carbon dioxide it releases contributes to climate change. The Niger Delta has suffered from decades of pollution linked to the oil industry, which has also contributed to social and political unrest.
Parts of the Niger Delta remain an ecological disaster zone. Our research shows that despite decades of concern about pollution in the Niger Delta, local communities continue to face serious oil spills and gas flaring. We look forward to working with all those willing to take action to bring an end to environmental damage in the region.Calvin Laing, SDN Programmes Director
Disclaimer: We acknowledge that oil theft is a major factor in oil pollution, and the research does not differentiate between this and operational failures in the cause of pollution. However, under the Nigerian Department of Petroleum Resources’ guidelines, oil companies are required to have an oil spill contingency plan to protect the environment, and contain and clean up spills related to its areas of operation
The analysis in this research is indicative and based on publicly available data. The Index and Index methodology, which will be published online, were independently reviewed by relevant peer organisations, and are based on good-faith assumptions and calculations. We welcome new data and information on environmental emissions in the Niger Delta. We also welcome suggestions for how this work could be improved. We will aim to update our future analysis accordingly.
We acknowledge that oil theft is a major factor in oil pollution, and the research does not differentiate between this and operational failures in the cause of pollution. However, under the Nigerian Department of Petroleum Resources’ guidelines, oil companies are required to have an oil spill contingency plan to protect the environment, and contain and clean up spills related to its areas of operation.
Note to the Editor:
Media contact: Daniel Therkelsen: Communications Officer, SDN firstname.lastname@example.org
About the report
SDN’s Environmental Performance Index examines the environmental emissions of 43 oil companies operating in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria in 2018. This is the latest year for which all relevant information is available. It is based on data from environmental monitoring tools used by the Nigerian National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA). These are the Oil Spill Monitor and Gas Flare Tracker. It also uses information from the Department of Petroleum Resources.
The purpose of the Index is to provide a detailed understanding of industry emissions across the Niger Delta. We wish to enable a constructive discussion with oil companies and government on how these can be minimised, and help bring the long-running environmental problems in the region to an end.
We assessed environmental performance using five indicators:
– The amount of oil spilled by each company
– The number of oil spills attributable to each
– The amount of oil removed from each spill
– The amount of gas flared by each company
– The total amount of oil spill and gas flared by each company, relative to the volume of oil it produced.
SDN supports the efforts of those affected by the extractives industry and weak governance. We work with governments, companies, communities and other stakeholders to ensure the promotion and protection of human rights. Our work currently focuses on the Niger Delta, where SDN is an established voice with a presence spanning 14 years.