Recent oil spills in Delta and Bayelsa States, Nigeria

Three oil spills have been reported in the press in August and September 2016. All of these spills have had a devastating impact on the agriculture, environments and general well-being of the local communities.

Firstly, in Delta State, Ten Ijaw communities along the Escravos river in Warri South West Local Government Area of Delta State have been affected by a crude oil spill from a Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) facility. The spill occurred on August 17th 2016, and journalists in the area were told that it was traced to a crude oil trunk line from the Pipelines and Products Marketing Company (PPMC), the products marketing and distribution subsidiary of the NNPC. The communities that were affected were the Tebujor/Okpele-Ama, Ikpokpo, Okerenkoko-Gbene, Opuedebubor, Opuede, Opuendezion, Atanba, Oto-Gbene, Meke-Ama Communities in Gbaramatu Kingdom, along the Escravos river in Warri South West Local Government Area of the state. Figure 1 shows the oil spill, and Figure 2 is shows a zoomed out to show the wider area.


Figure 1


These communities have accused the PPMC of not carrying out a proper joint investigation of the incident by a properly constituted team comprising representatives of the community, NNPC, Department of Petroleum Resources and the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency, NOSDRA. According to the communities, the PPMC brought in military men to chase away villagers.


Figure 2


According to the Oil Spill Monitor it appears that a JIV was carried out on 19th August, and NOSDRA, State Ministry of Environment, and reps from the company and community. That is clearly a different account of the oil spill and follow up report to journalists by the local communities in Warri.

Secondly, in Bayelsa state, according to local residents, primarily the Kalaba community which has been recently plagued by gas leaks, a spill was discovered in August, which is continues to spill crude oil into the forests and swamps, threatening local ecosystems and agriculture capacity. The oil field from which the reported spill has come from is operated by Nigerian Agip Oil Company. Representatives from the area are appealing to the Federal Government to prevail on Agip to make necessary clean up and remediation.


Figure 3


Unfortunately, according to the Oil Spill Monitor in the area, this incident has yet to have been monitored, officially reported, or have been dealt with by a Joint Investigation Visit. Thus, the matter needs to be researched more thoroughly and be documented on the OSM by NOSDRA. Figure 3 shows the area from which the spill has been reported, which is north of Yenagoa and South of the Bayelsa Forest.

Thirdly, in reference to a third oil spill in Ahoada East, Rivers State in August, indigenes of Odiemerenyi community reported a clash between military officers attached to the management staff of Total and local community youths. The former had previously been denied access to the spill site whilst attempting to carry out an inspection tour, and reportedly returned with reinforcements and shot at the youths in order to gain access, and burned six houses to the ground.  A reconciliation meeting between community representatives and Total held last week, and Total asked the community representatives to retract a press statement they had issued before negotiations could continue. This spill has damaged farmland, drinking water and fisheries.  The visit and spill is yet to be reported on NOSDRA’s Oil Spill Monitor, as illustrated by Figure 4.


Figure 4


It is of note that of these three oil spills that have occurred in the past month, only one has been documented on the Oil Spill Monitor, and two out of three have involved violence between officers and the local community. This suggests a causal link between environmental and wider socioeconomic frustrations within the local communities, and escalation of tensions to violence.

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