The oil industry poses a real threat to the environment and local communities in Nigeria. Several towns and villages in the state of Bayelsa have been shaken by a new disaster linked to oil exploitation.
A new oil spill and gas pollution are currently ravaging the Niger Delta region of southern Nigeria. The flora and fauna of this region have been suffering from a degraded environment for several decades, and this is the latest devastating event. Their habitat is being polluted by approximately “two million barrels of crude oil which would have been dumped in the Santa Barbara River by the oil company Aiteo”, indicated the spokesman of the Governor of Bayelsa State, quoted by Radio France Internationale (RFI).
One of Aiteo’s officials disputed the figure of two million barrels. According to him, “ the mention of two million barrels of oil escaping from the well is misleading. Two million barrels is about two supertankers. The oil would then have spread throughout the country. The reserve of the well itself- even is far from two million barrels“.
Another major spill of crude oil happened in Nembe, by the same Nigerian oil company Aiteo. It begun on November 5th and took several days for this company, considered one of the largest private oil companies in Nigeria, to stop the leak. Civil society authorities have expressed concern about this situation. “More than 40 communities have already been affected by the tide”, a source quoted by local media Vanguard said.
Oil spills in the Niger Delta have become a problem for humans as well. Over the years many people have developed health problems because of it. Several devastating impacts are caused by this type of pollution. The rich biodiversity of the region is seriously harmed, and nearly all aquatic life is destroyed. The spills pollute the water and make fishing and farming impossible, which means local communities have lost agricultural land. In general, people feel powerless against the omnipotence of the Nigerian oil company.
In January 2021, the Nigerian subsidiary of Royal Dutch Shell was ordered by the Court of Appeal in The Hague to compensate Nigerian farmers for damage caused by oil spills that caused death, disease and destruction. The Court also found that the Dutch multinational company failed in its duty of care by not reacting sufficiently after the leaks.
At COP 26, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari announced that his country is committed to eliminating pollution by 2060. A goal that the government says requires funding of up to $400 billion. But, so far, nothing has been done, despite multiple announcements from the authorities.