Home Technical assistance to the Nigerian oil spill response agency

Technical assistance to the Nigerian oil spill response agency

2018- 2019


Delivering this project to visualise gas flaring and oil spills supports the Nigerian government to monitor and respond to environmental pollution in the Niger Delta more effectively. We redeveloped two key tools used by the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) to track oil industry emissions in the region.

Oil Spill Monitor: acts as a database of information on oil spills recorded by NOSDRA.

Gas Flare Tracker: uses satellite observations to detect the location of gas flare sites, together with estimates of the volume of gas being burned, or ‘flared’ as a by-product of oil extraction.

SDN developed the basic versions of both tools several years ago. Under this project, the tools were redeveloped with new and more advanced features.

This technical assistance by SDN meant government regulators, civil society, and members of the public can use the tools to explore data on oil spills and gas flaring around the Niger Delta more easily, and in more detail.


This project aimed to provide better data on pollution from the Nigerian oil and gas industry in the Niger Delta. This would enable NOSDRA, civil society, and environmental researchers to take more effective action to address it.

Key activities

  • Consulted with NOSDRA and civil society on their key requirements to access and interpret data on oil industry emissions more effectively.
  • OSM’s internal database was redesigned, based on recommendations from NOSDRA. This makes it easier for its staff to manage the chain of action related to the Joint Investigation Visit (JIV) process.
  • Created a dedicated website to OSM and GFT describing where the data comes from and how it can be used.
  • Amended the GFT to update automatically, providing month-by-month estimated volumes of the gas flared at more than 170 sites, both onshore and offshore.
  • Facilitated a series of training workshops for NOSDRA staff on how to use the new tools, as well as creating public user guides.
  • Formally handed over the tools to NOSDRA at a ceremony in Abuja.


Environmental degradation is a major issue in the Niger Delta. The legacy of half a century of exploitation of the region’s oil and gas resources without adequate environmental protection has been the creation of the one of the most polluted natural environments in the world. The two most obvious examples of this are oil spills and gas flaring.

Oil spills

Every year, hundreds of oil spills occur in the Niger Delta. These are often the result of faulty pipeline infrastructure, theft, or sabotage. When oil is spilled, it contaminates land and water sources. This can have serious human health consequences, as well as destroying a major source of income for communities in an area where many rely on agriculture and fishing.

Gas flaring

Meanwhile, gas is flared (burned off), as a by-product of oil extraction, at more than 170 sites around the region. Gas flaring has been linked to the acidification of rain and waterways, while research has found a correlation between the presence gas flaring and respiratory problems in communities living nearby.

Gas flaring, which is illegal unless expressly authorised, also wastes a potential source of power generation (around half of Nigerians have no access to electricity), and contributes to global climate change.

Project resources

Funders and partners

Published: 11.12.2019