By Prince Okafor
Oil and gas companies operating in the Niger Delta spilled 1,545 barrels of crude oil, an equivalent of 246, 000 litres, in three months, from January to March 2022, according to data obtained from the National Oil Spill Detection Response Agency, NOSDRA.
Although this indicates 52.6 percent less than the 3,262 barrels of crude oil spilled in the corresponding period of 2021, the development reflects the severe impact of environmental pollution on the nation’s economy due to crude oil exploration.
On a company by company basis, the report revealed that Heritage Energy Operational Service Limited recorded the highest spills, with 404.3 barrels of crude oil spilled in 31 incidents; followed by Shell Petroleum Development Company, SPDC, with 404.3 barrels of crude oil spilled in 31 incidents.
Others on the list include Empire energy, 314.47 barrel of crude oil spilled in one incident; Eroton Exploration and Production Limited spilled 69.57 barrels of crude oil in one incidents; Nigerian Agip Oil Company, NAOC, spilled 49.7 barrels of crude oil in 16 incidents; while Enageed Resource Limited spilled 15 barrels in two incidents.
While the value of the crude oil spilled might not be huge, the damage to the environment, the disruption to the livelihoods of individuals within the impacted communities, and the manpower and financial resources required to clean up the spill and return the environment to its original state, run into billions of dollars.
Reacting to the development, the former Chairman, Petroleum Association of Nigeria, Bank-Anthony Okoroafor, said, “It cost millions of dollars to clean a barrel of a crude oil spill.
The cost of managing oil spillage is very huge, it cannot be quantified because the cost to human life is more. Environmental degradation caused by the spillage affects human life. A lot of people in the next 10 years or more will suffer from serious lungs problems, cancer among others.
According to Duke Energy Distinguished Professor of Environmental Engineering and Science, Hilary Inyang, who has completed a scientific study of the areas, “A deep analysis should show that it would cost more than $50 billion to clean up more than 2,500 sites in the entire Niger Delta, even with the recognition that there have been more spills than spill sites.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with Vanguard, he said, “It would also take more than 50 years, even if that money was available. My back-of-the-envelope estimate is that for Ogoniland sites alone, about $6 billion are needed but risks can be reduced to tolerable levels with $3 billion.”