While there are some formatting issues with this open access paper by Eghosa Ekhator, his central tenants are solid. To all our friends who would have us suspend oil drilling in the U.S., I would suggest that at a minimum it is morally untenable to do so without first ceasing extraction in locations around the world such as the Niger Delta. These locales are often cursed with corrupt or ineffectual government and therefore lack even a semblance of a fig leaf’s worth of protection for either people or planet. Banning oil and gas extraction in our own backyards while tolerating reprehensible practices in the developing world is a recipe to continue to foist the worst impacts of our our modern society onto the backs of those least able to resist them.
This article will focus on the roles of the state agencies in the protection of the environment in the oiland gas industry in Nigeria. The governmental agencies in focus will be the National Oil SpillDetection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) and the National Environmental Standards andRegulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA). Notwithstanding [these aforementioned agencies], the environment of the Niger-Delta wherein the oil and gas industry of Nigeria is located has been negatively affected by activities of the oil Multinational Corporations(MNCs) operating in the industry, and the agencies are toothless dogs with little or no regulatory bite.Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa, with a population of about 150 million people, andcovers an area of 923,770sqkm or 356,700sqm.Nigeria is a major exporter of crude oil and naturalgas in the world. According to a 2003 estimate, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC)estimated that the oil reserves in Nigeria were about 34 billion barrels and this was expected to risedue to expected exploration and drilling. Also, Nigeria has an estimated 159 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) ofproven natural gas reserves, making the country one of the largest natural gas reserves in the world.Oil is the mainstay of Nigeria’s economy, and the bulk of the oil is found in the Niger-Delta region ofthe country. The major MNCs in the oil and gas industry of Nigeria are active in the Niger-Delta.The Niger-Delta area of Nigeria covers an estimated area of 70,000sqkm, encompassing a large partof the south-south geo-political zone or region of Nigeria, with a population of more than 15 millionpeople and more than 40 ethnic groups. The Niger-Delta is also the largest wetland in Africa, and it isvery rich in both renewable and non-renewable energy, such as gas, oil and bitumen, amongst others. A major advantage of the crude oil found in Nigeria is that the low amounts of sulfur found inNigeria’s petroleum makes it very attractive in the present day pollution-free world mantra.The Ogoni crises have brought the issues of the Niger-Delta to the world’s attention. The Niger-Deltaregion is rife with poverty and under-development, and neglected by the Nigerian Government.Environmental degradation is also rife in the Niger-Delta region of Nigeria. Here, the environmentaldegradation is traced to the activities of the oil MNCs operating in the oil and gas industry in Nigeria. It has been posited that oil MNCs, due to the global demand for energy or petroleum resources, areengaging in “a deep toxic stain spreading through air, water, and land on a universal scale”. Environmental degradation has been one of the major reasons for the incessant violence and conflict,exacerbated by the disenchantment of the Niger-Delta indigenes against the government and oil MNCs (operating in the Niger-Delta region). Other manifestations of the negative impacts of theactivities of the oil MNCs in the oil and gas industry in Nigeria include gas flaring and oil spillageamongst others.