Executive Summary

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Executive Summary

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Executive Summary

Bayelsa, in the Niger Delta, in Southern Nigeria, is in the grip of a human and environmental catastrophe of unimaginable proportions. At one time, the area was home to one of the largest mangrove forests on the planet; an area of unrivalled ecological value. Today, it is one of the most polluted places on Earth. Oil extraction and its impact is the overwhelmingly evident cause of this disaster.

A map of southern Nigeria showing Bayelsa State.
Source: CIA Maps

The Niger Delta is home to Nigeria’s oil industry. For over 60 years, international oil companies and the Nigerian Federal Government have rushed to extract billions of barrels of oil from the Niger Delta with scant regard for the consequences.

The result has been a catastrophic disaster. Tens of thousands of oil spills, unrestricted gas flaring, and frequent releases of toxic contaminants have poisoned people’s farmlands, the water they drink, and even the air they breathe.

The historic and continued activities of the oil industry have fuelled an environmental emergency, a silent health crisis, and deep economic hardship. This overwhelming tide of oil contamination has turned the Niger Delta – home to some of the planet’s largest mangroves and freshwater swamps, forests, and Africa’s largest wetlands – into one of the most polluted places on Earth.1 As much as 40 percent of the mangrove forests have been lost.2

The human impact has been just as devastating. One study estimates that in 2012 alone, oil spills in Nigeria, and predominantly in the Niger Delta resulted in over 16,000 additional neonatal deaths.3 Community after community has seen their livelihoods damaged by oil contamination.

Few places have suffered more than the state of Bayelsa, which sits at the heart of the Niger Delta. Despite being one of the Nigerian Federation’s smallest, poorest, and least populous states, it plays a central role in the country’s oil industry. Home to Nigeria’s first commercial oil well, Oloibiri, Bayelsa accounts for about 18-20 percent of Nigeria’s oil production.4

Between 1970 and 2014, Nigeria earned an estimated trillion dollars in oil revenue.5 Since 2006, oil produced in Bayelsa generated over US $150 billion for the Federal Government and billions for the international oil companies that operate its wells.6 On average, oil produced in Bayelsa is responsible for approximately US $10 billion in government revenues per year.7

This Commission’s findings shine light on the pollution catastrophe engulfing the state and its underlying causes. Chief among them are the systemic failings of international oil company operators with the complicity of Nigeria’s political classes and a dysfunctional Nigerian regulatory state. While the state accounts for only slightly over 1 percent of Nigeria’s total population, it is estimated to have suffered over a quarter of total recorded instances of oil pollution. The environmental, ecological and health consequences on the Niger Delta as a whole and on the people of Bayelsa have been catastrophic. They have suffered in silence for too long.

The report sets out a proposal to end decades-long cycles of contamination and neglect by the oil and gas industry. Safer and cleaner oil company operations will not be enough to end Bayelsa’s pollution nightmare. The fossil fuel generated climate crisis has also destroyed Bayelsa's ecosystems. The Commission recommends concerted international action to generate and invest at least US $12 billion over the course of 12 years to repair, remediate and restore the environmental and public health damage caused by oil and gas and to lay the foundations for Bayelsa’s just transition towards renewable energy and opportunities for alternative livelihoods.

The last three decades have generated many high-visibility reports, commissions, regulatory initiatives such as the EITI, scholarly research and sustained civil society advocacy. These have brought the plight of the people of Bayelsa to the world’s attention but done little to fundamentally alter their situation. In a fast-evolving geo-political landscape where there are renewed appetites for oil and gas, the Commission’s ambitious, forward-looking recommendations may appear counter-intuitive. They will only be achieved with concerted local, national and international action, leadership, solidarity and dedicated support. Now is the time to act.

A photograph of oil equipment leaking into a river.
A leak at an Agip flow station

Establishing the Bayelsa State Oil and Environmental Commission

Nigeria is Africa’s most populous country and historically the continent’s largest oil producer. Every day, up to two million barrels of oil are pumped from its wells, mainly to supply the markets of South Asia, North America and Europe.

Almost all of the country’s onshore oil output comes from the Niger Delta. The region is a 40,000 km2 labyrinth of wetlands, mangroves, marshland, swamp forests, creeks and farmlands, dotted with over 5,000 oil wells and criss-crossed by over 21,000 km of oil pipelines.8

Much of the Delta’s oil production comes from the state of Bayelsa, one of nine states in the region. Although smaller than Connecticut in the US, Bayelsa accounts for almost a fifth of Nigeria’s total petroleum output.

Nigeria’s oil wells are operated primarily by large International Oil and Gas Companies (IOCs) rather than by the state-owned national oil company, the Nigeria National Petroleum Company (NNPC). The five main IOCs – Shell, Chevron, Total, Exxon-Mobil and Eni (Agip) – NAOC (Eni operates through its subsidiary known as the Nigerian Agip Oil Company locally referred to as Agip, which is the former name of Eni) – working through a mix of wholly-owned subsidiaries and joint ventures with NNPC, together account for c.75 percent of the oil extracted in Nigeria.9

Over the years, Nigeria’s oil and gas resources have generated massive revenues for the IOCs that operate the wells and for the Federal Government, which owns all oil reserves and has rights to auction and tax these under the terms of the Constitution.10 The oil producers – with the acquiescence of the federal government – have externalised many of the costs and risks of production. It is not an accident that despite the logistical and security challenges it presents, Nigeria is seen as a low cost, high profitability jurisdiction for the oil majors. For instance, in a Shell Group annual report, the company states that it makes a higher profit per barrel and incurs lower production costs in the country than in virtually any other region of the world in which it operates.11

However, this oil bonanza has brought limited benefits to Bayelsa and has come at a terrible cost to the state and its people.

Infographic with headline: X1.5 barrels of oil spilled for every man, woman and child in Bayelsa.    Infographic shows an outlined man, woman and child within an outline of Bayelsa State, and an illustration of oil spilling.

The oil contamination has been so heavy that according to estimates, as much as one and a half barrels of oil has been spilled in Bayelsa for every man, woman and child living in the state today.12

The figures are even higher for some parts of Bayelsa, with, for instance, as many as six barrels of oil spilled for every person in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area (LGA).13

The devastating effects have unleashed an environmental and human catastrophe on an enormous scale. Irreversible damage has already been done and so many lives have been blighted or cut short as a result. Time is running out to secure justice for those who have suffered, to mitigate the damage that has already been done, and to prevent further harm in the future.

Oil producers are already beginning to divest themselves of their onshore assets to evade potential liability for historic pollution. There is an urgent need for action now.

That is why the Government of Bayelsa State established the Bayelsa State Oil and Environmental Commission (BSOEC) in March 2019. The Commission is chaired by the former Archbishop of York, The Rt Revd and Rt Hon the Lord Sentamu PhD (Cantab), PC, and is made up of an international panel of experts drawn from a range of academic disciplines. Its purpose is to establish the environmental, human and economic impact of oil pollution on Bayelsa, and to develop a rigorous set of recommendations to address the damage done by the pollution that has already occurred and to prevent further pollution in the future. Over the course of four years, the Commission has undertaken extensive work to uncover the true scope and scale of the catastrophic environmental pollution that has befallen Bayelsa.

As well as reviewing the extensive body of research that already exists, the BSOEC has undertaken a series of scientific field studies into the effects of oil pollution in Bayelsa, working with leading academic authorities to build up a unique picture of the scale and effects of oil pollution across the state.

It has complemented these studies with site visits and detailed research on specific cases. In addition, it has conducted over 500 interviews with diverse stakeholders, technical experts, and those with extensive, on-the-ground experience.

Throughout its investigation, the BSOEC has sought to listen to the voices of those who have suffered most, holding evidence-gathering sessions in affected communities across the state.

A photograph of a woman sitting in a small boat and removing fish from a net.
Fishing is a livelihood source for many families living in Bayelsa, but their trade has been blighted by oil spills.

A pollution crisis on an overwhelming scale

The picture that emerges is of a catastrophic pollution crisis, devastating in both its scale and scope. Official government statistics fail to capture the enormity of the disaster. These statistics are notoriously unreliable and there is strong evidence that they grossly and systematically under-report the number and scale of the oil spills that have occurred.

However, independent studies estimate that between at least 9-13 million barrels of oil have been spilled in the Niger Delta between 1958 and 2010.14 There is evidence that the true figure may be much, much higher. For instance, analysis of data from the NNPC’s own Annual Statistical Reports reveals that it lost almost 34 million barrels of ‘petroleum products’ from its pipelines in the period 2005-2018 alone.15

Assuming that the more conservative figures cited above are valid, they describe an almost unprecedented level of oil pollution.

This would mean that the Niger Delta has suffered the equivalent of a major oil spill, on the scale of the Exxon Valdez disaster - which devastated over a thousand kilometres of the Alaskan coastline - every single year for 50 years.

Although state-level data is hard to come by, according to our calculations,

Bayelsa, a state less than half the size of Wales, has been the victim over this period, of spills amounting to 10-15 times that of the Valdez.16

This overwhelming tide of oil contamination and associated activities such as dredging, mangrove and swamp forest clearance, and artisanal refining has turned the Niger Delta – home to some of the planet’s largest mangrove and freshwater swamps, forests, and Africa’s largest wetlands – into one of the most polluted places on Earth.17 Bayelsa is one of the states most affected within the Niger Delta. Other highly polluting activities, such as the flaring of around 14 million cubic metres of natural gas a day at 17 facilities across the state, have added to the damage, elevating levels of particulate matter (air pollutants) to over ten times the WHO limits in some communities and causing acid rain that kills crops and leaches into the soil.18

The toxic impact

To understand the impact of 60 years of sustained pollution, the Commission has undertaken two substantial pieces of scientific research. The first was a review by a team of forensic scientists of research commissioned by the Bayelsa State Government assessing the degree of hydrocarbon contamination of soil, water and air as well as species in the food chain seen across Bayelsa. The second was a health impact study, conducted by a team of public health professionals, based on the collection and analysis of blood samples taken from over 1,600 people in Bayelsa.

The results of both reports are stark. They show that toxins from oil pollution are present at often dangerous levels across the state and have infiltrated the food chain, ending up in the bloodstreams of those tested in affected communities.

In some locations, highly toxic oil-related contaminants such as chromium are present in groundwater at over 1,000 times the WHO limit,19 while in others, concentrations of noxious chemicals, such as Total Petroleum Hydrocarbons, exceed safe levels by a factor of 1 million according to some of the samples taken.20

Given this alarming profile of environmental contamination, it is not surprising that the Commission’s sampling confirmed existing studies that showed high levels of toxins in many of the animal and fish species that form a key part of the diet of Bayelsa’s communities.21

A photograph of an open area among a mangrove forest. The foreground is a body of water containing spilled oil.
40 percent of mangrove forest has been lost since oil production began, contaminated waters are a common sight.

The environmental, human and economic costs

The Commission’s scientific research demonstrates the extent to which oil pollution has poisoned Bayelsa’s soil, water, air and, ultimately, people. The cost of this contamination has been catastrophic.

It has driven large-scale environmental degradation and contributed to climate change.

Bayelsa and the surrounding states have lost 40 percent of their mangrove forests since oil production began.22 This loss of habitat has been accompanied by a significant reduction of biodiversity, with populations of many species being all but wiped out at spill sites. In the words of the Chair of the Commission (Lord Sentamu), Bayelsa has been the victim of ‘environmental genocide’. Even if Nigeria’s carbon footprint per capita remains low, for decades, Nigeria was among the world’s largest gas flarers, because of the activities of the IOC operators in Bayelsa and across the Niger Delta.

It has led to a silent health crisis.

Hundreds of thousands of people in Bayelsa have been forced to live on contaminated land, drink and fish in contaminated water, while breathing contaminated air. Mortality and morbidity rates have risen sharply, as has the incidence of chronic disease, in communities without the resources to cope. Research suggests that exposure to oil spills before conception killed around 16,000 infants within the first month of their life in 2012 alone.23 Meanwhile, average life expectancy in Bayelsa is approximately 50 years, four years less than Nigeria’s national average of 53 years.24 This figure is in stark contrast with the average life expectancy of 80 years in the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries.25

It has destroyed countless livelihoods and left many struggling to survive.

Thousands of communities and tens, if not hundreds of thousands, of people have seen their harvests decline and their fisheries poisoned. In a state where 70 percent of the population rely on agriculture and fisheries, the impact on fishing and forest products has been disastrous.26 According to a national nutrition survey conducted by the University of Ibadan, 97 percent of the communities affected by oil spills suffer from food insecurity, and nearly half of children living in those communities are underweight.27 This is more than double the rate for a large part of Southern Nigeria as a whole.28

It has destabilised local communities and stoked conflict.

The loss of income and the competition for compensation and contracts from the IOCs has destabilised local communities and fed a cycle of social conflict, depopulation and armed violence often fuelled by the presence and practices of the IOCs themselves. Between 2005 and 2009, this led to an armed insurgency.29

Today, while much diminished, violence continues to pervade social and political life in Bayelsa. Flaws in existing structures of relationships between oil companies and host communities continue to stymie development and indirectly stoke intercommunal conflicts.30 As a result, parts of the state have been included on the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s no travel list.31

Testimonies to the BSOEC

“  ”

Shell admitted that it was a failure. I am surprised to know that up till now Shell has not relieved the suffering of the people. Shell is not following best practices. Right close to Agbura and Otuokpotidi there was a spill that occurred during the flood. When it occurs like that it took the oil to the Atlantic Ocean. Shell did divide and rule. We petitioned Shell to the Federal Government of Nigeria. We wrote to the Attorney General and the Minister of Environment. Since 2016 they have done nothing.

Male Resident, Ayama
Ogbia LGA

A photograph of a group of men on a riverbank, pulling a small boat to shore.
Accompanied by local guides, BSOEC members travelled on polluted waters to access remote sites to collect evidence and testimonies.

“  ”

Nembe, in particular, degenerated into violent conflicts leading to the loss of thousands of lives and properties worth billions of US dollars. That community and many others have been set backwards by about one hundred years or more. Smaller communities like Liama, Beletiama, Emadike and a long list of others across the region were completely wiped off the face of the earth. Their natives have remained refugees for decades completely disconnected from their ancestry because of unscrupulous executors of the IOCs greed for oil in a country that does not regulate the sector.

HRM King Bubaraye Dakolo JP, FICMC
Agada IV

A photograph of a group of buildings on a riverbank, alongside a dock and several boats.
Bayelsans are forced to live and work on or near polluted waters, land and air.

“  ”

We are several communities combined into Aghoro 1 affected by the 17 May 2018 spill. I made a clear report to SPDC. All the copies are with them. A JIV* took place. But when I looked at it, it was not complete. We are 38 communities in Aghoro 1. Only the impacted areas were covered by SPDC. We have given a Power of Attorney to a company to put up all we need. Up to the first moment, we have not seen the payment of the compensation. SPDC was using divide and rule. They told the Aghoro 1 people that they would pay 32 million Naira (US $58,182**). Bonga oil spill, they gave Aghoro 1 and related communities 60 million Naira. Up to this moment, I have written letters to SPDC. Divide and rule. They sneak in and signed some documents that they want to go and walk. I said, no, do remediation, pay compensation, and do clean-up. We are dying. Many people are dying because of it.

I am sick because of this spill. I can’t stay in my house. Please take this home and let the government know that we need a thorough clean- up and remediation in our area. The whole area. And pay compensation within the next two weeks.

HRH, Amananowei of Aghoro 1

A photograph of a community meeting. A woman is standing and speaking into a microphone.
The BSOEC visited communities around Bayelsa to collect testimonies.

“  ”

JIVs do not integrate community inputs. Use of legal redress is frustrating and expensive for communities and oil companies relying on military repression of communities. They also use divide and rule to enable them to continue clamping. They are also supposed to come back for clean-up and remediation. They send some money to make us fight ourselves and end up doing nothing on the site.

Chief, Oporoma Council of Chiefs
Southern Ijaw LGA

A photograph of a riverbank with two children playing in the river.
Children are vulnerable to the health impacts of oil pollution.

*A Joint Investigation Visit (JIV) is part of an oil spill investigation process whereby when an oil spill occurs, a joint investigation team (JIT) is mobilised to visit the spill site. The JIT includes representatives of regulatory agencies, the oil company, and the local community. JIV forms, which are to be signed by the JIT, capture data on the cause of the spill, the volume spilt and the area affected.

**550 = $1. Exchange rate as at February 2022.

The immediate causes

Our analysis has found that not every single oil spill in every part of Bayelsa is the fault of the oil companies or of the Government of Nigeria. Third party interference can play a role. However, oil companies and the Government of Nigeria are both to blame for creating the conditions for the systemic crisis of oil pollution in Bayelsa - which results from a toxic cocktail of oil producer intransigence, failed regulation, dysfunctional politics, and a lack of international scrutiny.

The Commission’s analysis suggests that blame for the ongoing oil pollution catastrophe engulfing the Niger Delta communities must rest in the first instance at the door of the international oil company operators. Failures by the IOCs at every step of the process have fuelled the pollution crisis that Bayelsa faces today.32

The four failures the Commission has identified are:

  1. Failures of strategy.
  2. Failures of prevention.
  3. Failures of response.
  4. Failures to remediate.

1. Failures of strategy.

The historical neglect of Niger Delta communities by international companies dates back to the period of the trans-Atlantic slave trade when people from the hinterland were violently caught and sold as slaves. In the 19th century, when the region was known as ‘Oil Rivers’, due to its links with palm oil production, international trading companies were also responsible for significant environmental damage. More recently, ongoing oil spills and flaring of associated gas by IOCs and local operators have perpetuated the exploitation and neglect of Bayelsa and its people. This has occurred by design and is the intentional result of oil companies’ operating strategy and actions; actions which continue after Nigerian courts ordered an end to the practice of gas flaring over a decade ago.33 Although gas flaring is banned or heavily restricted in many other jurisdictions, oil operators persist with the practice in Nigeria, including in Bayelsa.34 The figures are stark; Canada flares 8 percent of its gases whilst international oil producers in Nigeria flare up to 90 percent of associated gas, releasing carbon dioxide and contributing to climate change.35

A photograph of oil-contaminated water.
Oil contaminated waters and farmland in Aghoro, Bayelsa.

A photograph of a family on a boat in the river.
People continue their daily activities in contaminated waters in Aghoro.

Legal evidence of IOC neglect

Recent court judgements suggest that Bayelsa’s pollution problem is not the result of accidents, but is rather a problem that has grown by design.36

UK Supreme Court Judgement and Dutch Court of Appeal against Royal Dutch Shell*

In February 2021 a UK Supreme Court judgement determined that Royal Dutch Shell Plc (RDS), as the parent company of Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited (SPDC), can be held legally responsible for the systemic pollution of the Ogale and Bille communities in Rivers State, and that their case could proceed in the English courts. This case affirms that corporate global policy frameworks and public commitments by multinational parent companies can give rise to liability for environmental and human rights abuses.

According to the Supreme Court, whilst “formal binding decisions” are taken at corporate level, these are taken on the basis of prior advice and consent from the vertical business or functional line, and organisational authority generally precedes corporate approval. Whilst the respondents suggested that RDS could only delegate responsibility for its own corporate governance and group-wide strategy functions, the RDS Control Framework shows that the CEO and the RDS Executive Committee have a wide range of responsibilities, including for “the safe condition and environmentally responsible operation of Shell’s facilities and assets”.37

The UK Supreme Court ruling came just two weeks after the Dutch Court of Appeal’s landmark ruling on 29 January 2021 against RDS in litigation brought by four Nigerian farmers and Milieudefensie (Friends of the Earth Netherlands) in 2008. The ruling held RDS liable for pollution caused by its Nigerian subsidiary and ordered it to improve its pipeline network.

SPDC in particular is liable for oil pollution at three locations in the Niger Delta, but according to the court, the parent company RDS also had a duty of care to make sure that a leak detection system was installed. Three of the four Nigerian plaintiffs and their fellow villagers were awarded compensation for the damage caused and Shell had to ensure that there was a leak detection system in the pipelines in Nigeria. It is the first time that a court has held a Dutch multinational accountable for its duty of care abroad.

*Royal Dutch Shell is known as Shell plc as of 2022 but this report refers to Royal Dutch Shell for historic accuracy and consistency.

2. Failures of prevention.

Many of the spills reflect a failure to properly invest in, maintain, manage and protect pipelines and facilities to minimise the risk of spills. The rate at which oil pipelines and facilities develop leaks in Nigeria is unparalleled when compared to other major oil producing countries.

Analyses suggest that Nigeria’s pipelines are 565 times more likely to spring a leak per 1,000 kilometres than those in the EU.38

The IOCs often publicly attribute this spill rate to sabotage. But in the recent Dutch Court of Appeal’s landmark ruling against Royal Dutch Shell plc, the court ordered Shell to install a leak detection system in the pipelines in Nigeria, as it does in its European pipelines. This highlights the IOCs' responsibilities to protect the environment and local communities from leaks regardless of the cause of an oil spill. It seems clear that in many cases oil producers are not taking sufficient steps to ensure that the risk of leaks is minimised. The IOCs do not appear to be instituting measures they would undertake as a matter of course in other countries to ensure the integrity of their pipelines.

Detailed independent studies also paint a very different picture to the IOC claims of sabotage. One recent analysis of specific spill incidents on the borders of Bayelsa suggests that production and corrosion errors may account for as much as 60 percent of all spills.39

International standards for inspection, repair and corrosion-proofing of pipelines do not appear to be observed. Much of the oil infrastructure is nearing the end of its operational life.

A study conducted on pipelines in six states in the Niger Delta found that more than 70% of the pipelines were over 20 years old and over 40% were more than 30 years old with much of the infrastructure suffering from mechanical failures due to poor construction and maintenance.40

A chart showing that 70% of pipelines are 20+ years old, and 40% of pipelines are 30+ years old.

An illustration. Two bubbles labelled “poor construction” and “poor maintenance lead to a third labelled “mechanical failures”.

Furthermore, while sabotage remains a serious issue, evidence suggests that the IOCs are not fully implementing best practice measures to monitor and prevent it. 262 spills were reported down the 92 km length of the Tebidaba-Brass pipeline in Bayelsa between 2014 and 2017,41 with its operator, Eni (Agip), attributing all but two of them to sabotage. Yet despite that, the regulators had warned Eni (Agip) to improve surveillance on the pipeline on no less than 162 separate occasions before action was taken.42

In the period 2006-2020, 2 of 47 oil companies operating across the Niger Delta - Eni (Agip) and SPDC (Shell) - accounted for 75% of spill incidents.43

An infographic showing that 2 oil companies (Shell and ENI) are responsible for 75% of oil spills.

3. Failures of response.

Once a pollution incident has occurred, IOCs are often slow to respond, compounding the damage done. By law, oil companies are meant to report all spills within 24 hours.

Yet, to take just one example, Shell met this requirement in only 26 percent of cases during the period 2014-2017. And occasionally these delays can be even more extreme; Amnesty International reported a case where it took Eni (Agip) 430 days to respond to a leak in a flow line in Bayelsa.44

Eni (Agip) took 430 days to respond to a leak in a flow line in Bayelsa.45

Oil spill in Ekeremor LGA, Bayelsa, 2018

In Ekeremor Local Government Area (LGA), a community leader reported concerns to SPDC in May 2018. She raised the alarm over the oil spill from the Trans Ramos pipeline and also on the alleged intimidation of community leaders of Aghoro 1 who were involved in the investigation of an oil spill that occurred in the area. The spill caused destruction to aquatic life and hardship for the communities who had no fresh water to drink for several weeks.

A reconnaissance visit by members of the BSOEC Secretariat to Ekeremor in 2018, prior to the establishment of the BSOEC, saw a site devastated by the oil spill, with the local communities concerned that they had not been supplied with fresh water for three weeks, and that their children were reporting strange illnesses. Only when the incumbent Deputy Governor of Bayelsa State visited the spill site with national media and some much-needed relief materials for members of the community such as drinking water and food, concerted efforts to address the spill began.

The community leader said, “they have contaminated our communities and we have no drinking water. All the fish and mangroves have died and they want to force us to sign a JIV report. We will not accept this.” Eighteen months later, a visit by the BSOEC to the community in November 2019 reported that the spill was still continuing.

The clean-up was completed on 21 February 2020.46

Analysis shows that delays are often not linked to site accessibility, with some of the leaks that take the longest to address being within easy reach. Systematic variation in response times between IOCs also point to operational failures rather than external factors as the primary cause of slow responses. For instance, between 2014 and 2017, it took Shell seven days on average to respond to a spill versus just two days for Eni (Agip).47

4. Failures to remediate.

IOCs as the operators, even if they operate as part of joint ventures, are responsible for remediating environmental damage associated with their infrastructure and operations. However, all too often, the IOCs take little action to clean up the pollution they have created and to remediate the affected site. An independent analysis of official data relating to over 6,300 spills between 2010 and 2015 showed that remediation work was only undertaken in 4 percent of cases and that in 90 percent of spills there was no post clean-up assessment.48 For instance, from 2014-2017, 262 spills occurred at Eni (Agip) sites in Bayelsa.49 A majority of these sites are yet to be remediated, and even where remediation is undertaken, it rarely meets accepted international standards.50 Even where large remediation initiatives are apparently carried out, all too often little actual recovery or restoration work occurs. For instance, in Ogoni, in neighbouring Rivers State, despite an international report published over a decade ago by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), physical remediation is still yet to begin at scale.51 The Bodo Mediation Initiative, also in Ogoni, Rivers State, is one example of post oil spill mangrove restoration, the largest ever undertaken in Africa. It began in 2015 and was only undertaken as a result of successful legal action, and the threat of it, by Bodo communities against Shell in the English courts.52

A closeup photograph of an oil pipeline that is leaking oil.
A pipeline leading to an oil spill and pollution on an Agip site in Ogboinbiri.

Bodo oil spill, Rivers State

In 2008, two substantial spills from a Shell oil pipeline – estimated to be in the region of 560,000 barrels – had a devastating impact on the Bodo community in the Ogoni area of Rivers State. A community of around 49,000 people dependent on fishing and farming saw more than 1,000 hectares of mangrove ruined and a marine ecosystem on which they relied for sustenance destroyed.

Shell initially offered only food and £4,000 in compensation for the damage resulting from the oil pollution. Three years after the spills, the Bodo community enlisted the UK-based law firm Leigh Day to take their case for better compensation and a thorough clean-up to the High Court in London. Shell immediately admitted their liability, but disputed the quantity of oil released into the environment from the spill. In 2014, four months prior to the case being heard in court, Shell decided to settle for £55 million and paid each one of the 15,600 claimants £3,000.

The case represented a landmark in that a significant number of individuals in Nigeria affected by an oil spill were able to successfully pursue a claim. However, the Bodo community decided to go to the High Court again in 2016 to bring a new case regarding Shell failing to fulfil its clean-up obligations despite an ongoing mediation initiative between the plaintiff and the defendant. A judgement was made allowing the community to retain its case in the court while suspending it to give the mediation process more time. The third and final stage of the Bodo community clean- up operation eventually started in 2021.

Bodo is the exception rather than the rule. There is a general absence of any environmental restoration in Bayelsa and beyond. In addition the methods used to assess the extent of damage are often ineffective and do not reflect standard international practice. Partly as a result of this, the compensation offered to individuals and communities is often grossly inadequate. In one case litigated before the English courts, the oil company in question was accused of underestimating damage caused by a factor of 60.53

An illustration showing that underestimated damage was underestimated by a factor of 60.

As well as failing to address the immediate need for physical rehabilitation of the environment, IOC remediation efforts often fail to adequately address immediate humanitarian and social needs once the damage has been done, including the immediate closure of polluted sites and provision of basic urgent access to clean drinking water.

Underpinning much of this is a flawed approach to community engagement which not only lacks transparency, but blurs the lines between what IOC responsibilities are, under Nigerian law, for physical clean-up and remediation and social investments provided by IOCs to secure their social licence to operate in given communities. IOC community engagement in this context itself becomes a source of community conflict. The lack of physical clean-up and remediation to acceptable international standards, poorly planned provision of compensation, and the award of security contracts to favoured community stakeholders, fuels both substandard clean-up and substandard remediation practices, as well as intense competition for resources and social instability. Cycles of conflict resulting in death and destruction of communities as well as forced migration, have become systemic in many parts of Bayelsa. These conflicts also create incentives for sabotage and oil theft.

The roots of the problem

Much of the responsibility for the current crisis must be borne by the IOCs whose activities, from the period of British colonial rule up to the present time, have inflicted much damage upon Bayelsa. But the failures of the oil producers are themselves rooted in a set of deeper institutional, legal and political problems that must be addressed if the pollution crisis is to be tackled on a sustainable basis.54

A failed regulatory regime

To date, the bodies charged with enforcing environmental standards and the regulatory regime that underpins them, have lacked capacity, independence and influence. They have simply not been fit for purpose.

While this report was in preparation, the Nigerian government introduced the new Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) on 16 August 2021.55 The new law makes changes to the governance and regulatory architecture and introduces new rules for oil companies’ community development interventions. Highlights of the new regime include the reshaping of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) into a commercial entity, the Nigeria National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPC Limited). With the PIA coming into effect, the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), an arm of the old NNPC that was responsible for regulating the petroleum industry, has been replaced with two new regulatory bodies, the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC) and the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA), responsible for the upstream and midstream/downstream sectors, respectively.

Like the now defunct DPR, the new Commission and Authority will be responsible for granting licences to companies and ensuring the profitability of the petroleum business as their primary mandate. However, the PIA also gives the new agencies powers relating to environmental regulation that potentially conflict with their commercial duties and undermine other federal agencies like the Federal Ministry of Environment and National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA).56 Concerns over the effectiveness of the new governance structure for the oil sector are further heightened by sections of the PIA that could be interpreted as granting the Commission and Authority powers to override other federal agencies and prioritise the oil industry’s profitability above all other considerations.57

The PIA has also not adequately addressed conflicting and overlapping roles of different regulatory bodies which would, in particular, continue to hamstring effective environmental regulation. For instance NOSDRA, which sits within the Ministry of the Environment, has traditionally held responsibility for overseeing oil spill preparedness, detection and response, but has not had the power to shut down operations or enforce fines. The DPR, housed within the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, had the power to impose sanctions, though it operated to a different set of standards to NOSDRA and rarely used its powers to discipline oil producers. The standards laid out in DPR’s updated “Environmental Guidelines and Standards for the Petroleum Industry in Nigeria” (EGASPIN)58 are less rigorous in many respects than those mandated by NOSDRA and in many areas do not reflect accepted international practice.59

These weaknesses of institutional design and standards have traditionally been compounded by a lack of capacity. For instance, NOSDRA still lacks the powers and capabilities to supervise the IOCs and is reliant on the IOCs to facilitate its access to pollution sites. This not only limits NOSDRA’s independence and effectiveness, but also creates a further layer of conflicts of interest. As a result, much of the regulatory process inherently serves and is compromised and captured by the interests of the very companies it is meant to police.

While the Nigerian federal government works out the modalities for the new institutions, our analysis of the failures of the regulatory regime, which we present in detail in the chapters that follow, remain valid as the PIA fails to address the issue of responsibility for historical oil pollution, and the institutional shortcomings that enable the scale of oil industry pollution and societal upheaval as experienced in Bayelsa and elsewhere.

A flawed legal framework and weak access to justice

Many aspects of Nigeria’s legal framework allow polluters to escape scrutiny and accountability. In most advanced industrialised countries, two basic principles - ‘polluter pays’ and ‘no fault liability’ - form the cornerstone of the legal regime for regulating extractive industries. Taken together, they mean that those that own and operate facilities are responsible for the damage caused by their pollution even if they are not at fault.

Unfortunately, both of these concepts are at least partially absent from the body of Nigerian law. Consequently, oil companies currently assert that if they can show that a leak was not their fault, they presume that they are not responsible for paying compensation. Perhaps then, it is not surprising that the oil companies claim that almost 90 percent of leaks are due to sabotage, a finding they believe frees them of liability for compensating the victim.60 However, despite this general perception, Nigerian laws do not in fact give oil companies absolute immunity from liability in all instances of sabotage. Where an oil company has been negligent and failed to take ‘reasonable measures to prevent’ foreseeable sabotage, they are still legally liable to pay compensation.61

This process is reinforced by inconsistency and other weaknesses in the legal framework, including a lack of legislation reflecting international standards on regulating asset integrity, none of which is suitably addressed by PIA legislation.

Moreover, some of the fines laid out in statute for breaches of key elements of legislation have not been updated for many years and, as a result, are sometimes too low to act as a disincentive to poor behaviour by oil producers.62 Furthermore, unlike other jurisdictions, such as the UK, where regulators can impose administrative fines and other sanctions, this is not so in Nigeria, where the decision by the Court of Appeal prevents regulators imposing fines unless they have a court order, a process which in practice could take years.

The problems posed by the legal framework are further compounded by the huge challenges individuals and communities face in accessing justice.63 There are no fast-track avenues for gaining compensation and plaintiffs often lack the resources required to pursue action through the courts. It is often the case that well-funded IOC defendants are simply able to bog down proceedings on an almost indefinite basis to prevent any unfavourable rulings.64 However, the NUPRC may now determine compensation under section 101 of the PIA. If effectively applied, this section may mean that compensation may be determined by the regulators instead of the courts.

The Nigerian government’s new Alternative Resolution Mechanism Centre was launched by the DPR in April 2021 with a six-person Advisory Council and a 20-member Body of Neutrals. The chief executive of DPR at the time hailed it as one of the flagship centres of the National Oil and Gas Excellence Centre (NOGEC). It is situated at the former headquarters of DPR in Lagos which is now occupied by the Nigerian Upstream Regulatory Commission. The Centre is primarily intended to resolve conflicts between parties relating to commercial, contractual, technical, host community and other issues related to the oil industry without recourse to law courts. At present, it remains unclear how communities in the Niger Delta might gain effective access to the NOGEC.65 It also remains to be seen how this mechanism could be aligned with the provisions of S 234(3) of the PIA which provides that Regulations made should include a grievance resolution mechanism to resolve disputes between settlors and host communities.

A photograph of a man in front of a patch of land that has been damaged by oil.
A youth leader demonstrates the impact of oil production on the local community.

An insufficient role played by state governments

The Nigerian constitution reserves the right for licensing and regulation of the oil sector to the Federal Government, and courts have interpreted this to include pollution matters. While the states bear the brunt of the human, environmental and economic cost of oil pollution, they are essentially sidelined in the regulatory framework and have a very limited role to ensure effective clean-up following pollution incidents.66 However, states have some scope to exercise some power over the regulation of the sector under the Land Use Act which grants the state government authority over the administration of all land in any given state including use and sale. State government powers also give them control over the granting of rights of way for oil pipelines and oil mining leases.67 However, narrow interpretations of relevant constitutional provisions by the courts, and fears about real and perceived risk of obstruction by federal agencies, also mean that state governments are reluctant to and rarely use their limited powers to police the sector’s environmental impacts. Although the new PIA maintains the provisions of the Land Use Act with respect to the midstream and downstream sectors, it is silent on the role and responsibility of state governments in regulatory matters pertaining to environmental pollution by the oil and gas industry.68 It remains to be seen whether this omission will be clarified in the guidance regulations flowing from the adoption of the Act.

A photograph of a group of people standing on a river bank and speaking.
Members of the community expressing their concerns regarding the oil spills and the negative impacts on their livelihoods.

A photograph of a woman working in a field and carrying a baby on her back.
Many Bayelsans rely on agricultural farmland for their livelihoods.

A Resource Provisioning Pact

Many of the flaws in the current regulatory regime have their ultimate origin in the mutually beneficial relationships and resultant complicity linking IOCs, politicians and the bureaucracies at federal, state and local government level.69 Provisions to promote greater transparency outlined in the new PIA, in terms of Commissioner appointments, board appointments, and National Assembly oversight over budget and expenditure statements, do not mean that these relationships between the Nigerian political class and the oil industry have been fundamentally addressed.

The PIA affords the new Upstream Commission authority to nominally challenge contribution levels to the environmental fund and the decommissioning fund set by IOCs based on their own internal audits. The PIA also gives the Commission the nominal right to commercialise gas that IOCs continue to flare on sites leased to them. Yet in practice, power asymmetries between the IOCs and the Nigerian state, underpinned by the enmeshing of regulatory and commercial functions in bodies set up to regulate the industry, make it highly unlikely that even the newly established Upstream Commission will change previous patterns of behaviour. All of these actors, in particular at the federal level, have strong incentives to keep oil flowing. Unimpeded oil production provides not just a stream of profits to the IOCs, but is also the primary source of revenues to the Federal Government. It is these revenues that finance the bulk of state, local and federal government budgets. They also provide the main pool of public funds from which rents linked to public office can be misappropriated.70

This resource provisioning pact is the fundamental foundation from which many of the problems of oil pollution stem. The reality of climate change is impacting Bayelsa on a daily basis, with rising sea levels and annual floods on scales hitherto unseen a regular occurrence since 2015. Compounded by gas flaring and the destruction of mangrove forests associated with the pollution crisis, this ‘resource provisioning pact’ remains a serious impediment to addressing systemic pollution and preparing for the post-oil transition in Bayelsa. Until this pact is dismantled, a post oil future remains elusive. At both federal and state levels, a future without oil is not yet a realistic option for many.

A lack of international scrutiny

The failures in the Nigerian system are further compounded by the failure of international law, international institutions and the home jurisdictions of IOCs to effectively scrutinise and hold the companies accountable for the harms resulting from their activities. While the same jurisdictions and processes have established a fail-safe system to inoculate investors from risks to their investments in the host countries, there are no similar protections for local citizens from the harmful effects of investor activities. Existing international mechanisms to which Nigeria is committed, such as the Nigeria Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (NEITI), have, despite their good intentions, failed to rein in poor behaviour by the IOCs or rent-seeking by politicians. In addition, until more recent standards were adopted, ecological costs were never integrated into NEITI analyses. NEITI is part of the EITI - a transnational initiative of influence in setting standards for transparency in the sector. As such, NEITI is focused primarily on transparency in revenue payments and anti-corruption rather than in operational practice. NEITI could further its reputation for setting a high international bar for EITI national implementation but Nigeria could set a leading example by incorporating obligations to report on both environmental and health standards as well as financial transparency.71 Similarly, while some countries are increasingly enforcing anti-corruption standards on their companies worldwide through measures such as the UK’s Bribery Act, they have yet to take the same approach to minimum environmental standards.72

In a global context that is increasingly hostile to continued hydrocarbon development, IOCs have scaled up their investments in renewables and are the new champions of zero emissions.73 A new approach to minimum environmental standards is now more urgently needed than ever to ensure that IOCs cannot opt in to climate action and opt out of historical liabilities for environmental pollution. Climate change is indeed a reality in communities that have borne the brunt of over 60 years of oil and gas production activity and whose traditional livelihoods have been destroyed while their economies remain inextricably intertwined with a systematically polluting oil and gas industry. International action is needed to support Bayelsa’s post-oil transition, which means supporting Nigeria’s overall efforts to transition away from oil and gas.

Ongoing price volatility in global oil markets, compounded by the COVID pandemic and the Russian invasion of Ukraine, point to the urgent need for Bayelsa to seek productive economic alternatives away from dependence on oil extraction and export. The devastating impacts of climate change – visible in recent flood disasters in Bayelsa – and global demands for the transition from fossil fuel-driven economies further underline the urgency of this need for economic diversification and food sovereignty.74 As such, recommendations three and four in this report contemplate an economic development fund to support a post-oil future for Bayelsa which could include renewables (e.g. wind and solar projects along with local agricultural processing facilities).

A photograph of equipment containing spilled oil in water.
Shell's “batch” (oil spill clean-up and remediation equipment) cleaning up oil spills in the creeks, collecting the spilled oil from the river.
Chapter icon
  1. Osuagwu, E.S. and Olaifa, E. 2018. Effects of oil spills on fish production in the Niger Delta. PloS one, 13(10), e0205114: https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0205114.

  2. Langeveld, J. W.A. and S. Delany. 2014. The impact of Oil Exploration, Extraction and Transportation on Mangrove Vegetation and Carbon Stock in Nigeria 1401. Biomass Research Report, 1401: Biomass Research, Wageningen. See also James, G.K., Adegoke, J.O., Osagie, S., Ekechukwu, S., Nwilo, P. and Akinyede, J. 2013. Social valuation of mangroves in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria. International Journal of Biodiversity Science, Ecosystem Services & Management, 9(4), pp.311-323.

  3. Bruederle, A. and Hodler, R. 2019. Effect of oil spills on infant mortality in Nigeria. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 116(12), pp. 5467-5471.

  4. Yahaya, A. 2019. Full list of oil producing states in Nigeria (2020) [Online]. Nigerian Infopedia. [Accessed 28 September 2020]. Available at https://nigerianinfopedia.com.ng/oil-producing-states-in-nigeria.

  5. Ezekwesili, O., Adenikinju, A., Onyeanakwe, A. and Longe, B. 2018. Stabilizing Nigeria’s volatile economy: Necessity of a constitutional savings and stabilization mechanism. Abuja: Shehu Musa Yar’Adua Foundation.

  6. NEITI. 2018. Oil and gas industry audit report. Abuja: NEITI Secretariat. See also Inimino, E.E., Otubu, O.P. and Akpan, J.E. 2020. Petroleum profit tax and economic growth in Nigeria. Asian Journal of Sustainable Business Research, 1(2), pp. 121-130.

  7. On average, the Nigerian oil and gas sector generated US $41.6 billion in revenues per year for government and subnational entities, including crude oil sales, taxes, royalties and other incomes, between 2009 and 2018 (data compiled from NEITI Audits. Available: https://neiti.gov.ng/audits/oil-and-gas [Accessed December 13 2021]). Although these figures are not broken down by state, it would be reasonable to expect Bayelsa to be the source of roughly US $10 billion of these revenues, given that the state produces roughly 23 percent of Nigeria’s daily oil production. The overall figure of $150 billion would therefore represent a period of roughly 15 years. (Bayelsa Investment Promotion Agency. Available: https://investbayelsa.by.gov.ng/oil-and-gas/ [Accessed December 13 2021]).

  8. Department of Petroleum Resources. 2013. 2013 Annual Statistical Bulletin: Nigeria Oil and Gas Industry Annual Statistical Bulletin. Abuja: Department of Petroleum Resources.

  9. Department of Petroleum Resources. 2018. Nigeria Oil and Gas Industry Annual Report. Abuja: Department of Petroleum Resources.

  10. NEITI. 2018. Oil and gas industry audit report. Abuja: NEITI Secretariat.

  11. Royal Dutch Shell Plc. 2019. Energy for a better future. Annual report and accounts for the year ended December 2019. Available at https://reports.shell.com/...

  12. NOSDRA. n.d. Nigerian Oil Spill Monitor. Available at NOSDRA According to these official NOSDRA statistics, Bayelsa accounts for over 25 percent of all spills in Nigeria.Independent estimates of total volumes spilled range from 9 - 13 million barrels, implying up to four million barrels have been spilled in Bayelsa, which has a population of 2.3 million.

  13. NOSDRA. n.d. Nigerian Oil Spill Monitor. Available at https://nosdra.oilspillmonitor.ng/. According to NOSDRA at least 1,814 (52.3 percent) of the 3,466 spill incidents in Bayelsa have occurred in Southern Ijaw since 2005. Given Southern Ijaw’s population of 337,000, this would mean that if four million barrels were spilled in Nigeria, over two million could have been spilled in Southern Ijaw (assuming that all incidents involved the same spill amount). This would imply that around six barrels have been spilled per person in Southern Ijaw.

  14. Osuagwu, E.S. and Olaifa, E. 2018. Effects of oil spills on fish production in the Niger Delta. PloS one, 13(10), e0205114: https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0205114.

  15. Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation. 2019. 2019 Annual Statistical Bulletin. NNPC ASB 2019. 1st Edition. [Accessed 3 October 2021] Available at https://www.resourcedata.org....

  16. Between 1976 and 2005, over three million barrels of oil were spilled across Nigeria, equivalent to 10 times the size of the Exxon Valdez spill which devastated over 1,000 km of Alaskan coastline. See Emuedo, O. A., Anoliefo, G. O. and Emuedo, C. O. 2014. Oil Pollution and Water Quality in the Niger Delta: Implications for the Sustainability of the Mangrove Ecosystem. Global Journal of Human-Social Science, 14, 9-15; Ite, A.E., Ibok, U.J., Ite, M.U. and Peters, S.W. 2013. Petroleum exploration and production: Past and present environmental issues in Nigeria's Niger Delta. American Journal of Environmental Protection, 1(4), pp. 78-90. A NOSDRA/ DPR estimate calculates that 2.4 million barrels were spilled between 1976 and 1996. See Odjuvwuederhie, E. I., Douglason, G. O. and Felicia, N. A. 2006. The effect of oil spillage on crop yield and farm income in Delta State, Nigeria. Journal of Central European Agriculture, 7(1), pp. 41-48. Given the nature of the data collection system over this period it is certainly a wild underestimate. A recent study using DPR data estimated 3.1 million barrels spilled between 1976 and 2014. See Chinedu, E. and Chukwuemeka, C. K. 2018. Oil Spillage and Heavy Metals Toxicity Risk in the Niger Delta, Nigeria. Journal of Health and Pollution, 8(19), pp. 1-8.

  17. Osuagwu, E.S. and Olaifa, E. 2018. Effects of oil spills on fish production in the Niger Delta. PloS one, 13(10), e0205114: https://journals.plos.org...

  18. Ezenwaji, E. E., Okoye, A. C. and Otti, V. I. 2013. Effects of gas flaring on rainwater quality in Bayelsa State, Eastern Niger Delta region. Nigeria. Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health Sciences, 5, pp. 97-105.

  19. Jamieson, A and Gomes, S. 2020. An Independent Forensic Assessment of Environmental Pollution in Bayelsa State. Bayelsa State Oil and Environmental Commission.

  20. Jamieson, A and Gomes, S. 2020. An Independent Forensic Assessment of Environmental Pollution in Bayelsa State. Bayelsa State Oil and Environmental Commission.

  21. See also Felagha, I., Monanu, M. O. and Amadi, B. A. 2020. Human health risk assessment of heavy metals in three species of Mollusks (Egeria radiata, Limicolaria flammea and Viviparus contectus) from Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, Nigeria. Asian Journal of Advanced Research and Reports, 10, pp. 21-26; Osioma, E. and Iniaghe, P. O. 2019. Concentration of heavy metals in water, sediments and tissues of clarias gariepinus from earthen ponds in Kolo Creek Communities in Bayelsa State, Niger Delta, Nigeria. Asian Journal of Water, Environment and Pollution, 16, pp. 97-106.

  22. See Langeveld, J. W.A. and S. Delany. 2014. The impact of oil exploration, extraction and transportation on mangrove vegetation and carbon stock in Nigeria 1401. Biomass Research Report, 1401: Biomass Research, WagEningen. An estimated 80 per cent of this mangrove vegetation is distributed across just three states – Bayelsa, Delta and River – together totalling an area of 9,763.9 km² of mangroves, of which 3,533.5 km² (36.2 percent) is in Bayelsa. This implies that, based on the overall mortality rate of 40 percent, 1,413.4 km² of the mangrove vegetation in Bayelsa has died since oil production commenced in 1958. See James, G. K., Adegoke, J. O., Osagie, S., Ekechukwu, S., Nwilo, P. and Akinyede, J. 2013. Social valuation of mangroves in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria. International Journal of Biodiversity Science, Ecosystem Services & Management, 9, pp. 311-323.

  1. Bruederle, A. and Hodler, R. 2019. Effect of oil spills on infant mortality in Nigeria. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, pp. 116, 5467-5471.

  2. World Bank. 2020. Life expectancy at birth, total (years) - Nigeria. Available at https://data.worldbank.org/ind...

  3. Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development. 2022. OECD Better Life Index. [Accessed 7 February 2022] Available at https://www.oecdbetterlifeindex.org/topics/health/...

  4. Cordaid. 2020. Oily Livelihoods: Dynamics of Artisanal Refining on Sustainable Livelihoods in the Niger Delta– Nigeria. Cordaid. Available at https://www.cordaid.org/en/wp-content/uploads/sites/11/2020/09/CCSP-2020_OilyLivelihoodsNigeria.pdf. See also Egesi, O.C. 2016. Artisanal Fishers and the Adoption of Fishing Technologies in Bayelsa State. IIARD International Journal of Geography and Environmental Management, 2(1), Available at https://www.iiardjournals.org/get/IJGEM/VOL.%202%20NO.%201%202016/Artisanal%20Fishers.pdf.

  5. Ordinioha, B. and Sawyer, W. 2008. Food insecurity, malnutrition and crude oil spillage in a rural community in Bayelsa State, south-south Nigeria. Nigerian Journal of Medicine, 17, pp. 304-309.

  6. UNDP (United Nations Development Programme). 2006. Human Development Report: Niger Delta Human Development Report. New York.

  7. Watts, M., 2015. Chronicle of a future foretold: The complex legacies of Ken Saro-Wiwa. Extractive Industries and Society, 2, pp. 635–644.

  8. Audu, N. and Arikawei, A. 2013. Oil and Gas Exploration in the Niger Delta: Assessment of its Impact on Rural Development in Bayelsa State. Research on Humanities and Social Sciences, 3(17), pp. 49 – 50.

  9. United Kingdom Government Digital Service. n.d. Foreign travel advice: Nigeria. [Accessed 31 January 2022] Available at https://www.gov.uk/forei....

  10. Ejenavi, O. 2018. Sustaining Oil Exploration and Exploitation in the Emerging Context of Sustainable Development: The Case of the Niger Delta. PhD, Lancaster University. Available at https://www.research.lancs... See also Olaniyan, A. 2015. Imposing Liability for Oil Spill Clean-Ups in Nigeria: An Examination of the Role of the Polluter-Pays Principle. Journal of Law, Policy and Globalization, 40.

  11. Business and Human Rights Resource Centre. 2005. Nigerian Judge Rules Gas Flaring Violates Constitutional Rights. Available at https://www.busine... [Accessed 15 November 2022].

  12. Ezenwaji, E. E., Okoye, A. C. and Otti, V. I. 2013. Effects of gas flaring on rainwater quality in Bayelsa State, Eastern NigerDelta region, Nigeria. Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health Sciences, 5, pp. 97-105.

  13. Atevure, B. S. V. 2004. Processes of Oil Production and Environmental Degradation: An Overview. Journal of Environmental Analysis, 2(1), pp. 76-85.

  14. The recent English Supreme Court and Hague Appeals Court rulings on 12 February and 29 January 2021 respectively confirmed that Nigerian communities can bring their legal claims for clean-up and compensation against Royal Dutch Shell Plc and its Nigerian subsidiary in the English and Dutch courts.

  15. Pols, D. 2021. Nigerian farmers and Friends of the Earth win oil pollution case against Shell in historic ruling. Milieudefensie Friends of Earth Netherlands. [Accessed 8 October 2022]https://en.milieudef....

  16. Steiner, R. 2010. Double standard: Shell practices in Nigeria compared with international standards to prevent and control pipeline oil spills and the deepwater horizon oil spill. Milieudefensie Friends of Earth Netherlands. See also Cech, M., Davis, P., Gambardella, F. and Haskamp, A. 2019. Performance of European cross-country oil pipelines: Statistical summary of reported spillages in 2017 and since 1971. Concawe Report. Brussels. June 2019. [Accessed 29 August 2022]. Available at https://www.concawe.eu...

  17. Amnesty International. 2013. Bad Information: Oil Spill Investigations in the Niger Delta. London: Amnesty International Publications [Online]. [Accessed 24 April 2021]. Available at https://www.amnestyusa.org.... See also Amnesty International. 2018. Negligence in the Niger Delta: Decoding Shell and Eni's poor records on oil spills. Amnesty International [Online]. [Accessed 30 January 2022]. Available at https://www.amnesty.org....

  18. Achebe, C. H., Nneke, U. C. and Anisiji, O. E. 2012. Analysis of oil pipeline failures in the oil and gas industries in the Niger delta area of Nigeria. In Proceedings of the International MultiConference of Engineers and Computer Scientists, Hong Kong, 14–16 March 2012; pp. 1274–1279.

  19. Amnesty International. 2018. Negligence in the Niger Delta: Decoding Shell and Eni's poor records on oil spills. Amnesty International [Online]. [Accessed 30 January 2022]. Available at https://www.amnesty.org/en/documents/afr44/7970/2018/en/.

  20. Amnesty International. 2018. Negligence in the Niger Delta: Decoding Shell and Eni's poor records on oil spills. Amnesty International [Online]. [Accessed 30 January 2022]. Available at https://www.amnesty.org/en/documents/afr44/7970/2018/en/.

  21. Watts, M. and Zalik, A. 2020. Consistently unreliable: Oil spill data and transparency discourse. The Extractive Industries and Society, 7, pp. 790-795.

  22. Stakeholder Democracy Network (SDN). 2016. Improving Oil Spill Response in Nigeria: Comparative Analysis of the Forms, Data and Related Process in the Joint Investigation Visits (JIV) and Suggestions on How These Could be Improved [Online]. [Accessed 3 October 2021]. Available at https://www.stakeholderdemocracy.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/Improving-Oil-Spill-Response-in-Nigeria.pdf.

  23. Stakeholder Democracy Network (SDN). 2016. Improving Oil Spill Response in Nigeria: Comparative Analysis of the Forms, Data and Related Process in the Joint Investigation Visits (JIV) and Suggestions on How These Could be Improved [Online]. [Accessed 3 October 2021]. Available at https://www.stakeholderdemocracy.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/Improving-Oil-Spill-Response-in-Nigeria.pdf.

  1. Stakeholder Democracy Network (SDN). 2016. Improving Oil Spill Response in Nigeria: Comparative Analysis of the Forms, Data and Related Process in the Joint Investigation Visits (JIV) and Suggestions on How These Could be Improved [Online]. [Accessed 3 October 2021]. Available at https://www.stakeholderdemocracy.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/Improving-Oil-Spill-Response-in-Nigeria.pdf.

  2. Stakeholder Democracy Network (SDN). 2016. Improving Oil Spill Response in Nigeria: Comparative Analysis of the Forms, Data and Related Process in the Joint Investigation Visits (JIV) and Suggestions on How These Could be Improved [Online]. [Accessed 3 October 2021]. Available at https://www.stakeholderdemocracy.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/Improving-Oil-Spill-Response-in-Nigeria.pdf

  3. Amnesty International. 2018. Negligence in the Niger Delta: Decoding Shell and Eni's poor records on oil spills. Amnesty International [Online]. [Accessed 30 January 2022] https://www.amnesty.org....

  4. Amnesty International. 2018. Negligence in the Niger Delta: Decoding Shell and Eni's poor records on oil spills. Amnesty International [Online]. [Accessed 30 January 2022]. Available at https://www.amnesty.org/en/... See also Amnesty International. 2020. No clean up, no justice: Shell's oil pollution in the Niger Delta [Online]. 18 June. [Accessed 3 September 2020] Available at https://www.amnesty.org/en/...

  5. United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). 2011. Environmental Assessment of Ogoniland. Nairobi: United Nations Environment Programme. [Accessed 3 October 2021]. Available at https://www.unenvironment.org/exp.... See also Amnesty International. 2020. No clean up, no justice: Shell's oil pollution in the Niger Delta [Online]. 18 June. [Accessed 3 September 2020] Available at https://www.amnesty.org/en/la...

  6. Leigh Day. n.d. Shell-Bodo. [Accessed 10 September 2021]https://www.leighday.co.uk...

  7. Amnesty International. 2015. Long-awaited victory: Shell to pay out $83 million over Nigeria Delta oil spills [Online] [Accessed 29 September 2020] Available at https://www.amnesty.org/en/la....

  8. Umejesi, I. and Akpan, W. 2013. Oil Exploration and Local Opposition in Colonial Nigeria: Understanding the Roots of Contemporary State-Community Conflict in the Niger Delta. South African Review of Sociology, 44(1), pp. 111-130. Available at https://www.tandfonline.com/... See also Omofonmwan, S. I. and Odia, O. O. 2009. Oil Exploitation and Conflict in the Niger Delta Region of Nigeria. Journal of Human Ecology, 26(1), 25-30. Available at https://www.tandfonline.com/...

  9. The Petroleum Industry Act. Federal Republic of Nigeria Official Gazette. No. 142 Lagos. 27 August 2021. Vol. 108.

  10. See ss. 4(3), 7, and 8 of the Petroleum Industry Act.

  11. See ss. 25 of the Petroleum Industry Act.

  12. The “Environmental Guidelines and Standards for the Petroleum Industry in Nigeria” have apparently been saved and will continue to apply under the PIA regime by virtue of section 312 of the PIA, which retains all regulations and guidelines issued under the Petroleum Act to the extent that they do not conflict with the provisions of the new act.

  13. Olawuyi, D. and Zibima, T. 2019. Review of the Environmental Guidelines and Standards for the Petroleum Industry in Nigeria (EGASPIN). Nigeria: Afe Babalola University.

  14. Shell. 2017. Sustainability Report 2017 [Online]https://reports.shell.com/su....

  15. Shell Petroleum Development Company Nig v. Chief Otoko. 1990. 6 NWLR (pt.159) 693; Akpan & anor v. Royal Dutch Shell plc & anor, District Court of the Hague, 30 January 2013, LJNBY9854 / HA ZA 09-1580, Bodo v. Shell Petroleum Dev. Co. of Nigeria. 2014. EWHC 958.

  16. Amnesty International. 2012. Nigeria: Joint Memorandum on Petroleum Industry Bill. Available at https://www.amnesty.org/en/wp-....

  17. Vidal J. 2015. Niger Delta communities hit by oil spills to instigate more claims in London against oil firms, say civil society actors. The Guardian [Online]. 7 January. [Accessed 2 October 2021]. Available at https://www.theguardian.com/en.... See also Emeseh, E. 2011. The Niger Delta Crisis and the Question of Access to Justice, in Obi, C. I. and Rustad, S. A. (eds) Oil and Insurgency in the Niger Delta: Managing the Complex Politics of Petro Violence. London: Zed Books. pp. 55.

  18. Aelex Legal. 2019. Nigeria: Case Review: NOSDRA v. ExxonMobil - Examining the Powers of Regulatory Agencies to Impose Penalties. Mondaq [Online]. 14 February. [Accessed on 3 September 2021]. Available at https://www.mondaq.com/nigeria/tri...

  19. Uzoho, P. 2021. Nigeria: DPR Adopts Alternative Dispute Resolution Mechanism for Oil Industry. This Day [Online]. 16 April. [Accessed 3 October 2021]. Available at https://www.thisdaylive.com/...

  20. Orji, F.M. 2018. Management of environmental issues in the Nigerian oil-producing region: A framework for stakeholders’ collaboration. PhD, University of Central Lancashire. [Accessed 3 October 2021]. Available at https://clok.uclan.ac...

  21. Ekhator, O. E. 2016. Public Regulation of the Oil and Gas Industry in Nigeria: An Evaluation. Annual Survey of International & Comparative Law. 21, pp. 43.

  22. S.115(1) and (2).

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