Oil spill offshore Nigeria worsening


Casting the Net,” by George A. Okiki. 1964. Nigeria. Image: NARA. It must have been lovely once…

SweetCrude reports that an ExxonMobil spill off the coast of Nigeria is worsening:

THE oil spill near ExxonMobil oilfield off the coast of Ibeno, Akwa Ibom State, southeast of Nigeria has spread along the shore for about 15 miles, and locals said it was killing fish they depend on to live.

Mobil Producing Nigeria, a joint venture between ExxonMobil and the state oil firm, said this month it was helping clean up an oil spill near its Ibeno field in Akwa Ibom state, though it did not know the source of the oil.

Reuters reports that water along the coast was covered with a rainbow-tinted film of oil for miles.

Exxon officials in Nigeria and in Houston could not immediately be reached to provide comment.

The story is here: Oil Spill near ExxonMobil field in Akwa Ibom worsens.

Last week, I wrote that ExxonMobil had supposedly started “clean-up” operations of an oil leak, although the company was not taking responsibility for the “leak”.

This is the typical pattern. First, there’s a leak, which is generally “small” or “contained”.  The company operating near the leak most often declares that it is not responsible for the leak, but is helping to clean things anyway. There are usually declarations that testing will be done to determine the source of the leak (results of this testing are never made public). Villagers and fishermen complain, to no avail. Then, several days or weeks later, we learn that the leak is much bigger than initially reported. It isn’t contained. Pollution is widespread.

But the oil company continues to claim the source of the oil can’t be determined — there is so much sabotage in Nigeria, after all. Between sabotage and bilge dumping, company representatives say, who knows where all this oil is coming from?

The only thing that is certain here is that a culture of corruption and impunity means that nothing will change. Oil companies and officials and security forces and former rebels all rake in the cash. (See the recent Wall Street Journal report by Drew Hinshaw, Nigeria’s Former Oil Bandits Now Collect Government Cash.) The land and water and livelihoods of millions are destroyed. People increasingly turn to illegal “bush” refining to get by, worsening the pollution. The oil companies and government officials take advantage of the situation, claiming that theft and sabotage are responsible for the pollution and prevent them from cleaning up the Niger Delta! (See the recent field report from Environmental Rights Action / Friends of the Earth Nigeria: A Peep into the Bush Refineries.)

And so it goes, year after year…




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