Oil Spill Incidents in Nigeria Decline by 13.5%

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By Adedapo Adesanya

The National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) has disclosed that a minimum of 383 oil spill incidents were recorded in 2021, lower than the 443 spills recorded in 2020 by 13.5 per cent.

In its latest oil spill report, NOSDRA stated that 33 of the 383 publicly available oil spill records for 2021 were not visited by a joint investigative team, while 122 of these spills had no estimated quantity provided by the company operating the assets from which the spills occur.

The oil spill remediation agency disclosed that based on available 23,897.271 barrels of crude oil, about 3.776 million litres were spilled, an equivalent of 119 tanker trucks full.

It further noted that the total spills in 2021 comprised two major oil spills, a situation where over 250 barrels of crude oil were spilled into inland waters, or over 2,500 barrels spilled on land, swamp, shoreline, and the open sea.

In addition, it stated that seven medium oil spills were recorded, a situation whereby 25-250 barrels of oil were spilled into inland waters, or 250-2,500 barrels spilled on land, swamp, shoreline, and the open sea.

Also, 240 minor oil spills were recorded, whereby up to 25 barrels were spilled into inland waters, or 250 barrels spilled on land, swamp, shoreline, and the open sea.

It added that 175 of these oil spills were under 10 barrels in size, while 128 oil spills could not be categorised.

NOSDRA stated that currently, there are no legally binding regulatory penalties or fines for oil spills in Nigeria, noting, however, that companies whose assets are responsible for the spill are required to fund the clean-up of each spill and usually pay compensation to local communities affected, especially if the spill was a fault of the company’s.

“A recent court case related to repeated oil spills in the Bodo area of Ogoniland argues that a failure by companies to adequately protect pipelines from vandalism or theft or continuing to operate when vandalism or theft is rife, constitutes culpability on behalf of the pipeline operator.

The government agency further stated that all operators are required by law to close off or stop all oil spills emanating from their assets within 24 hours of being notified of an oil spill in their jurisdiction, while a Joint Investigative Visit (JIV) must be carried out as soon as possible after a spill has been identified and containment measures are taken.

NOSDRA said: “The Joint Investigative Visit is where the oil company representatives, community representatives, and appropriate government agencies visit the oil spill site to agree on the cause, impact, and scale of spill among others. The resulting JIV document is signed by all parties present and forms the basis of any legal proceedings or compensation claims.

“Within two weeks of a spill being identified oil companies must (by law) submit information (Form B – enshrined in Nigerian law) to the government regulator which outlines areas of impact, the area covered by the spill, quantities spilled, quantities recovered, cause of spill, containment and cleanup measures, among others.”

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