The permanent oil slick no one is talking about

A villager dips his hand in the polluted water near of the village of Ikrama, where a shell pipeline is leaking. June 11, 2010.

Nigera is Africa’s main crude oil producer. It is also the country which counts the most oil spills in the world. The Niger Delta, once an ecological sanctuary, has become a no-fishing zone because of the slicks that permanently poison its waters.

In May, when all eyes were on the oil gushing from a ruptured BP in the Gulf of Mexico, a spill at the other end of the world went virtually unnoticed. The story of ruptured wells and pipelines is a sadly familiar one in Nigeria, where Amnesty International, estimates that over 9 million barrels of oil have poured into the Niger delta over the last 50 years.

Although this figure is dwarfed by the estimated 30 million barrels of the BP spill, environmentalist groups in Niger are concerned by the media attention granted to one eco-disaster over another, longstanding one.

Shell Nigeria, the country’s most important oil company, has been blamed for the permanent damage caused to the delta. But the company retorts that most of the leaks were caused by saboteurs and opposition rebels, notably the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), nicknamed the "Robin Hoods" of the Delta.

Nigeria is one of the most corrupt countries in the world, and environmental groups have pointed to the fact that the government is the main shareholder in most local oil consortiums. Goodluck Jonathan, Nigeria’s new president, has pledged to put a stop to the near-permanent slick in the Delta.

A spill flowing from Shell equippment in Udo Adah Ikot, Nigeria, in 2008.  

Village of Peremabiri, Nigeria, February 11, 2009.

A leak still burining along the Agip pipeline in Angiama. April 16, 2009.

Angiama villages take ERA members to soiled marshlands on April 16, 2009.

All photos taken by members of environmental NGO ERA.

"The leaks are mostly caused by equipment failures"

Nmimmo Bassey is the head of the environmentalist group ERAction-Friends of the Earth in Nigeria. . His work was documented in the film "Poison Fire".

Since 1958, the history of oil companies in Nigeria has been tainted with chronic spills and pollution. There are on average 300 leaks and spills each year, and we’ve counted 2,400 polluted sites that have not been properly decontaminated.

There have been dozens of large-scale disasters, but to name just the lastest one, a rusty Exxon-Mobile pipeline cracked open on May 1st in the state of Akwa Ibom (south of the country). In one week, the equivalent of 28,570 barrels gushed from the ruptured pipe. When locals organized a protest near the spill site, they were harassed and manhandled by members of the secret security service.

It’s clear to us that the leaks are mostly caused by equipment failures and rusty pipes. Most pipelines in Nigera were built over 30 years ago and are very poorly maintained. The lines that aren’t underground aren’t protected at all.

So far, the government hasn’t been enforcing existing regulations. Companies like Shell are engaged in intense lobbying campaigns to avoid tighter legislation on infrastructure security. These companies have all have close ties with the government authorities, and are seldom punished for acts of negligence that would be severely punished in Europe.

The spills have caused irreversible damage to rivers and mangroves in the region. Fish stocks have been heavily depleted because of the pollution. Former fishermen now depend on imported fish to feed their families. The slicks have also caused extremely toxic waves of red algae in the mangroves. Except that here, there has been no media attention or financial compensation. With the reported poor oil spill response plans and drilling methods, it means that we are really sitting on an explosive situation. It is horrible.

"The West has closed its eyes for 50 years because the damage is located in Africa"

Khalifa Dikwa is a political science professor in a university in north-east Nigeria.

The saboteurs are groups of troubled youths, often junkies, who only understand the language of money. They’ve been driven to what they are because the oil companies and Nigera have done nothing to preserve the Niger Delta’s people and eco-system

Nothing is done for jobs, education, water purification, public transport or communications. Corruption is absolutely rampant.

The West has said nothing for the past 50 years because the damages caused by the spills are in Africa. Western government are prepared to close their eyes on a number of things if it’s in their financial interest. Here we say that the West is the mother of the 3 Ds: Disease, Disaster and Death."


'"The West has closed its eyes for 50 years..'

'Here we say that the West is the mother of the 3 Ds: Disease, Disaster and Death'
Some academic! It is his own government's fault that this has reached such a pitch. It is down to the government to care a damn about its citizens and demand that BP tackle the problem once and for all.

Even if BP were to solve the problem tomorrow, it can never guarantee that oil riches would be distributed fairly and lift Nigerians out of poverty.

There are two many tribes, further splintered by religion, that will keep Nigeria dysfunctional.

nigerian oil leaks

no surprise !
The bigger the companies , the higher the level of due diligence and accountability to citizens and state.
Small family businesses are penalized in comparison.


Obama is taking action when it is on his lawn ,but will he have the courage to take firm action when it happens in other peoples gardens, I fear not, as the American Dream is to LOOK AFTER YOURSELF FIRST, and then the resources run out and the will fades.

Currently the country is run

Currently the country is run by someone who is a Socialist. At least these corporations understand that a nation like the United States has run, and always will run on a capitalistic, free-market system. These "evil corporations" provide jobs, unlike the government (and yes I know that recent reports showed some 400,000 jobs were created, the media fails to mention that 95% of them were temporary census jobs, and that only around 40,000 actual private sector jobs were created). Wanna know who to blame for the Oil Spill??? Look no further than the inexperienced, arrogant, and obscenely naive administration. The U.S. may not be particularly helpful in foreign affairs to some countries, but its hard to help someone (or some country) that won't help themselves.

It took them 6 weeks to even meet with BP exec's. They also initially turned down a very generous offer from the Netherlands, who offered the United States use of some large ships equipped with boons that would have eliminated some 200,000 gallons of oil per trip. Later, when it became obvious that the administration had no actual plan or chance to clean up the mess on their own, they reconsidered and accepted the offer -after gallons and gallons of crude had already contaminated the environment.

On a side note, this 50-100 years of media coverage that keeps being brought up basically boils down to 50-100 years of increasingly corrupt and propaganda filled lies.

Mr Dunn, You obviously have

Mr Dunn, You obviously have not been keeping up with the news for the last 50 to 100 years as you would have noticed that the United States has given more to the world than any other country in the history of this planet. There are monies owed to this country by many foreign nations from as far back as WWII that will never be repaid. The responsibility to control the problems we face with big business bullying lies with the consumer. Do not buy the products these companies produce. Do you or anyone else in the world have the balls to follow through with this? Take your dose of your addiction and shut up, please, or get yer arse back to the garden and do what we should all do and "starve" them into compliance. This is the only way it will happen, not by regulation by corrupt governments whose greed circumvents reality. It will not be easy and may not be possible at this point so sleep in the bed that you and all of us made.


Mr All Knowing, You obviously have not been keeping up with the news for the last 50 to 100 years as you would have noticed you are completely wrong.
While the US has done some things to help other countries out, (Such as indipendence for many nations), we don't do much compared to many other countries.
Currently, the US is not run by the Pres, who is trying to help solve US problems brought on by Bush... (He may not be doing the best atm... but its a big job). The US is now actually being run by large corporations. You have the money, you have the power... atleast thats how it works in the US.

We don't help shit but help ourselves to some more food. Fat fuckys.