In Nigeria, Shell causes worst oil spill in a decade

oil spill

In Nigeria, coastal and fishing communities are worried, as Shell has admitted to causing the worst oil spill there in ten years, said a report, which was closely followed by a second disaster.

Last Wednesday, 75 miles off the coast of the Niger delta, up to 40,000 barrels of crude oil were spilled, poisoning the water, during an attempted transfer from an oil platform to a tanker.

As of that night, all production from the Bonga field - which typically produces about 200,000 barrels of oil a day - was halted.

Satellite images showed that the spill spread over 356 square miles. Shell responded by spraying dispersants on the oil and deploying booms to stop its spread. Regardless, Nigerian villagers note that oil is still washing up on the coast.

Moreover, Nnimmo Bassey, head of Environmental Rights Action, remarked that Shell's statements about the amount of oil spilled and the supposed subsequent clean-up are not to be trusted, and that other local activists do not buy the company's 'facts.'

"Shell says 40,000 barrels were spilled and production was shut," said Bassey, "But we do not trust them because past incidents show that the company consistently underreports the amounts and impacts of its carelessness."

"We are alerting fisher folks and coastal communities to be on the lookout," he added. "This just adds to the list of Shell's environmental atrocities in the Niger delta."

Jacob Ajuju, a local villager, said, "When this spill occurred, we called on Shell to come and do a clean-up, but since then, they did not turn up, so we the communities had to do it instead."

And now, Shell is trying to plug a second leak caused by a shut down pipeline in the Niger delta's Nembe Creek. The pipeline was reportedly sabotaged, after the Bayelsa State Ministry of Environment noted that oil thieves had installed valves on it.

Oil theft - or 'bunkering' - is often the source of blame when Shell is linked with destructive oil spills in this region, reported Reuters. However, human rights groups like Amnesty International often find a much more appropriate source to blame - Shell itself, for its negligence in its continuous greedy pursuit of oil, which has resulted in troubling developments in other parts of the world.

These latest disasters in Nigeria come after Shell admitted in August 2011 that it was responsible for "two major spills in the Bodo region of the delta that took place in 2008," which it has "yet to pay compensation for," according to the The Daily Activist.

Shell has also admitted that it closed a Gulf of Mexico deep drilling operation after reportedly spilling 319 barrels of contaminated fluids - and that spill, reports the Telegraph, came less than a week after the U.S. conducted its first auction for drilling leases in the Gulf of Mexico since the infamous 2010 oil disaster. That auction drew opposition from many concerned environmental groups and, as this 319-barrel spill proves, rightly so.

Photo: "Overhead view of Shell's oil spill in the Niger Delta region." Sunday Alamba/AP Photos

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  • This is a great article. However nothing will happen to the Shell corporation or any of the oil companies, as they are some of Obama's biggest campaign $$$ contributors. Take for example : BP caused one of the largest oil spill disasters in the Gulf of Mexico and they are still allowed to drill. Go figure.

    Posted by richard, 01/07/2012 11:45pm (4 years ago)

  • I was in Nigeria in 1994 and it doesn't appear that anything has changed. Back then you could smell the petroleum as soon as you stepped off the plane in Lagos.

    The technology exists to effectively address oil spill contamination issues in an environmentally compatible manner, without the use of dispersants that are more toxic than the oil released.

    During the 2010 Deepwater Horizon Release, BP deployed many miles of the ADsorb-it Fabric as an oil fence for protecton of shoreline and marshlands from advancing oils. It worked perfectly! It would work for the Shell Oil Release in Nigeria as well. Photos and more information is availabel at or I can be contacted directly at:

    Posted by Herb Pearse, 01/05/2012 12:04pm (4 years ago)

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