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The Threat - Assessment of Spill Risk in Niger Delta
Petroleum Activities in Nigeria are concentrated mainly in the Niger Delta, which is
considered environmentally very sensitive to an oil spill in view of the complexity of
its ecological setting and endowment. Anifowose (2008) and Onuoha(2008) cited in
their studies that the region has about 606 oil fields with 355 situated onshore; 251
situated offshore with 5,284 drilled oil wells and 7,000km of oil and gas pipelines. All
of the crude petroleum is transported via pipelines to storage depots terminals within
the Niger Delta and areas contiguous to it. There are seven terminals out of which five
are located along the coastline. These include the Bonny, Forcados, Qua Iboe,
Escravos, and Brass terminals. The other two are Oloibiri and Antan terminals, both of
which are located off the shoreline on the Atlantic Ocean. Each of these seven
terminals has one or more loading points SBMs where large capacity ocean-going
vessels moor to load. On the average, between 65 to 100 or more vessels of average
capacity 750,000 barrels visit the shores of Nigeria to load crude petroleum in one
month. The pipelines through which crude oil is transported from various gathering
points to the respective terminals, and from the individual terminals to the SBMs sum
up to several hundreds of kilometers in length, and criss-cross the maze of creeks and
coastal areas of the Niger Delta.
(See Figure 1: Crude oil and petroleum product pipeline map of Nigeria).
Figure 1: Crude oil and petroleum product pipeline map of Nigeria.
Two of the three refineries in Nigeria, (Warri refinery, old and new Port Harcourt
refineries) are located in the Delta region or within the area contiguous to the Delta
(Warri and Port Harcourt) and the third, in the hinterland Kaduna). The refineries are
supplied with crude oil through pipelines, the longest being the Escravos-Kaduna
pipeline. From the refineries, refined products are distributed to all parts of the
country by a system of network of pipelines and storage depots.
The risks that are associated with the facilities described above would primarily be oil
spillage due to:
Tank failure in any of the terminals and tankers accident within the Nigerians
Rupture of major delivery lines due to ageing.
Oil well blowouts from the flow stations.
Marketing of refined products.
Cleaning of oil tankers on the high sea.
The risk of oil spillage exists therefore, at all areas where these activities are carried
out, with the higher potentials in areas of concentrated activities. Due to the
magnitude of risk involved, the government of Nigeria put in place a National Oil
Spill Contingency Plan (NOSCP) to curtail these problems if they arise.
The Tragedy - Incidence of Oil Spill in Niger Delta
Oil spills in the Niger Delta have been a regular occurrence, and the resultant
degradation of the surrounding environment has caused significant tension between
the people living in the region and the multinational oil companies operating there.
The rate of spill incidents has escalated to a serious and unacceptable level of about
80% between1976 and 2008 in oil producing areas of the Niger Delta region as shown
Figure 2: oil spill incidence in Nigeria from 1976-2008.
The increase in intensity and volume of oil has created situations virtually
unacceptable to major oil industry stakeholders and the public as environmental
degradation has become worse in the area. The observed level of pollution and
concomitant severe degradation are believed to be part of the cause for agitation and
restiveness amongst various groups particularly the youths of the affected areas. It has
also generated other social political issues/controversies and to a large extent
imbroglio in that region such as massive corruption, unemployment, alleged neglect,
absence of sustainable development, finger-pointing between communities and oil
companies as to causes of oil spills, equitable compensation and lack of political will
on the part of the government to protect lives and properties and punish oil polluters.
Some factors adduced for the rise of oil spill incidents in the Niger Delta are:
The application of ineffective technology and procedures for preventing oil
Sabotage - spills caused by intentional acts.
Aging facilities that can no longer sustain new challenges.
Oil that is spilled in and not recovered will have an impact on the local environment,
spreading over a wide area and affecting both terrestrial and marine resources,
inappropriate clean up actions can make the situation worse. The development of the
region has led to the degradation of some sites reducing their value and use. In the
past, spills have also necessitated the complete resettlement of some communities.
Loss of agricultural land, for example, translates into loss of livelihood for farmers
while the psychological and social problems associated with displacements include
loss of ancestral homes, familiar surroundings, religious and other cultural artifacts
Status of the prevailing policies and procedures of oil spill response in Niger delta.
The procedures for detecting oil spill and determine the extent of damage is rather
cumbersome, semi-crude and environmental unfriendly.
When oil spill occurs, it is expected that community reports to the oil company that
owns the facilities about the oil spill incident. The Oil Company would inform the
regulators including the NOSDRA (National Oil Spill Detection and Response
Agency), DPR Department of Petroleum Resources and the responsible State Ministry
of Environment. It is expected that within twenty-four hours, a Joint Inspection Team
(JIT) will be constituted which include the Operators (Oil company representatives),
the regulators (DPR, NOSDRA etc.) and the communities and other stakeholders. The
Joint Inspection team will ascertain the extent of spill, the volume of oil spilled into
the environment, the causes of spill and the cleanup strategies to be adopted and
whether it would be necessary to pay compensation.
Some of the problems associated with the current procedures are outlines as follows:
There is lack of consensus on the steps to conduct clean up and remediation
in the oil spill areas.
The methods of clean up and reaction time are not only ineffective but often
The claims of communities as regard the damage caused by the oil spill
cannot be scientifically substantiated since most times there are no resource
map to quantify resource at risks and ascertain ownership of affected areas.
There are no data about communities in the Niger delta such as population of
enumeration area, structure of population and certain base data that could be
used in contingency planning as well as those due for compensation in the
case of oil spill.
There is no real time detection of oil spill in the entire Niger delta, therefore
oil spill spread into the ecosystem before they are detected and reported.
Usually there is time lapse before the Joint inspection team (JIT) is
constituted to inspect the spill before clean-up exercise can commence.
There is mistrust among the stakeholders on the integrity as there are counter
accusations and counter claims in oil spill management. In some cases spilled
oil may spread beyond the boundary of the lease area belonging to the
company where the spill occurs especially at the coastal areas where spill oil
is transported through creeks and water waves.
Remediation procedures and activities are not usually documented and
captured in maps or GIS systems for easy retrieval in future.
There is no frame work to predict places where oil spill hazard may likely
occur (Fabiyi 2002).
The Way Ahead - Quantitative Approach to Oil Spill Risk Assessment
An oil spill "risk" is a combination of the likelihood of a spill occurring and the
impact of that spill. Each spill is a unique event that varies according to oil type (e.g.
light, medium or heavy oil), season and location. Oil types vary with regard to their
toxicity, persistence in the environment and its weathering behavior.
A Quantitative Risk Assessment provides a data based risk estimates derived using
mathematical modeling and statistical analysis of data. It involves the quantification of
risk as result of the probability (expressed in frequencies) of an event occurring and
the impact potential of the event.
it is important to provide best available information on probabilities as well as
In order to improve the current state of oil spill management in Niger Delta. A
systematic approach, comprising the
following main elements should be put in place namely:
Figure 3: oil spill risk evaluation process
Compiling a dataset on the activity levels and number of operations on all
installations and field on the region.
Establishing national data sets on blowout frequencies and durations.
Compiling weathering characteristics for all crude oil produced in the Niger
Undertaking oil drift simulations for major field centers on the region.
Developing a GIS interface to national atlases on areas of particular
Developing and implementing national classifications of sites of high
Establishing an industry standard methodology, implement research and
development on oil spill contingency plan.
Establishing regional oil spill response plans.
Signing agreements with resource providers to ensure that the requirements of
the oil spill response plans were satisfied
Preparing a program for verification of the new regime, and training of all
partners i.e the regulators and the operating companies.
Requisite for Effective Quantitative Risks Based Approach for Oil Spill Control and
Management in Niger Delta.
Effective government and private sector partnership is required to deal with the
occurrence of oil spills in Niger Delta with government playing a major role.
developed spill management will involve expanded knowledge of spills and clear
national spill contingency plan, provision of trained personnel and massive investment
in response and clean up assets, equipment and technology.
Also an industry with a potential for polluting the environment must have an
emergency preparedness, proportional to the probability and consequence of the event.
For field developments, required studies include:
Environmental Impact Assessment
Plan for development and production
In areas of environmental sensitivity, all documentation is distributed to different
stakeholders and made available to the public in a hearing process.
As a matter of urgency the Clean Nigeria Association (C.N.A) which is a consortium
of eleven oil companies operating in Niger Delta must focus on three main issues;
environmental, technical and operational and have the following objectives in mind;
C.N.A should develop a risked based approach to be applied as basis for
emergency preparedness requirements. Under this approach, C.N.A should
gather detailed information on the offshore activities from all the operating
companies followed by a comprehensive study on the event frequencies. Oil
drift modelings should also be conducted to assess the impact of any event and
the resources required to carry out an effective operation should be calculated.
Implement research and development on oil spill contingency.
In order for C.N.A to attain its objectives, it must have in place dedicated personnel's
at its main and strategic base stations i.e. Port-Harcourt, Warri, Calabar/Eket, Brass,
Atlas cove etc.
A major element that C.N.A must be in place
to reach the above objectives is the
deployment of heavy onshore and offshore systems, each consisting of a high capacity
skimmer and heavy oil booms. These systems must be operated by heavy duty
offshore recovery (OR) classed supply vessels, and they should be located on all
strategic C.N.A bases stations in the Niger Delta.
In addition to these C.N.A owned and operated resources, the main principle is to
achieve an optimal utilization of the resources available on an national
basis, whether local, regional or national, owned by the government or commercial
providers. This is done
by cooperation and agreements.
By following this principle, C.N.A may draw on a range of resources, from offshore
tankers to local fishing vessels (Figure 4).
Figure 4: An adequate oil spill combat resources
As an indispensable component in the organization, C.N.A must train contingency
groups with competent personnel from the member companies. These groups will
form the core of operations in the case of an emergency.
The co-operation between the oil and fishing industries must be of interest.
Agreements must be in place for the use of vessels in the event of oil spills. The
importance of engaging communities in response planning, in training exercises and in
response cannot be overemphasized.
There must be communication between industries and a dedicated Web site that helps
to maintain communications with the General public.
The dedicated website should have
One of the objectives to ensure that data collected and reviewed in the process should
be compiled in a way that allowed easy reference in the future. This part of the
dedicated web site should provide the interactive access to a collection of databases,
Key information on site specific analyses.
Archive of oil drift simulations in GIS format.
Statistical wind data.
Air and sea temperatures.
National and international oil spill combat resources.
Technical specifications of equipment.
Weathering characteristics for oils on the Niger Delta region.
Areas of particular environmental sensitivity.
Library and guidelines, technical guidelines and instructions, as well as
general relevant information.
Finally the use of Geographical Information system (GIS),
satellite imagery and aerial
observations in Oil Spill preparedness and response by C.N.A should be fully
implemented as it can greatly improve the efficiency of oil spill contingency planning.
Hazards and risks can be pre-determined and strategies developed to mitigate the
impacts of potential oil spills.
Conclusions and Recommendation
The relevant legislation on oil spill management and control in the Niger Delta, should
be based on the potential to pollute. Response planning must be proportional to its risk
of pollution. Operators should be able to work with Governments to define their own
risk profile and produce risk based control measures which aim to eliminate or reduce
the hazards identified to an acceptable level. In the process of identifying control
measures operators should be able to prove that they are able to carry out the control
measures using normal measures such as competent people, appropriate equipment,
and available logistics, all of which are available in an acceptable timescale. Once
these control measures have been defined and proven that they can be implemented
the Government should be able to approve the operator's oil spill preparedness and
For this system to work effectively it is important that all parties are well informed
and knowledgeable in the areas of oil spill risks, how spills occur, and the pragmatic
response standards which exist.
The main bottle neck in this approach it's that it would be the initial data requirement
to carry out the quantitative assessment. Usually, quantitative assessments require
extensive data sets that may be beyond the scope of many countries. For many
countries, there is a lack of relevant historical data for local conditions on which to
base any quantitative analysis.
The author thanks Engr. Adewale.A.Adeniji, Engr. Ohenhen .I for their support to this
List of figures
Crude oil and petroleum product pipeline map of Nigeria.
(Source: Sonibare and Akeredolu. Existing petroleum pipelines network in Nigeria. Research
Journal of Information Technology: Application of Geographic Information System Technology in
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Oil spill incidence in Nigeria from 1976-2008.
(Source: DPR. Oil spill incidence in Nigeria from 1976 to 2008. Petroleum Technology
Development Journal: Oil Spill Control and Management
2012.3. Vol 1, Print.)
Oil spill risk evaluation process.
(Source: Oil spill risk evaluation process. IMO Manual:
Oil Spill Risk Evaluation and Assessment of Response Preparedness
An adequate oil spill combat resources.
(Source: NOFO. Resources available to NOFO. 3rd seminar on marine environment protection:
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12 of 12 pages
- Quote paper
- Anireju Emmanuel Dudun (Author), 2012, A Proposed Oil Spill Control and Management Strategy for Niger Delta, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/388085