Jan

10

2011

Niger Delta Oil Spills: Cause, Impact and Responsibility

Abgelegt in energy

What has been viewed as an environmental crisis in the US is a chronic condition in Nigeria. Oil spills are a frequent occurence in the ecologically rich Niger Delta. It is estimated that nearly five times the 2.5 million gallons spilled in the Gulf has been soaking the Niger Delta every year for the past five decades. But what are the reasons for that bad condition in the Niger Delta?

Causes of the Niger Delta Spills

Many of the oil spills are the result of theft or sabatoge in an area where there is much military activity and oil will fetch a good price on the black market. Poorly maintained and corroded pipes are also a factor, but it is disputed as to how much these factors play a roll. Some estimates attribute as much as 50% of the oil spilled to poor maintenance. Most of the facilities were constructed between the 1960’s and early 80’s and would not hold up to many current standards.

Environmental and Economic Impact

Like the Gulf of Mexico spill, the on-going crisis in Nigeria has had a devastating impact on the ecosystem and economy. The Niger Delta spills have resulted in a sharp decrease in fish and wildlife populations as well as the dying off of significant portions of the mangroves. In addition to this they have contaminated the water tables and arable land, leading to significant food/income shortages and health problems.

Responsibility

Exxon Mobile, Texaco and Shell are some of the biggest names in oil located in the region. Two of the biggest spills are attributed to Texaco and Shell. It is hard to tell where government regulation steps in and looks the other way. The region produces the lions share of the countries revenue, and yet the life expectancy is the lowest.

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