There has been a proliferation in the activities of crude oil exploration across the globe as a resultof increase in high risk of oil spillage and the accompanying environmental hazards.In Nigeria, this has been the order of the day since the initiation of the first petroleum industry in country’s Niger delta region.Oil spills have been recurrent and impacting damaging effects on the environment particularly within the oil-producing region. This research examines oil spillage and their associative effects on the fauna and flora of the Niger delta region of Nigeria. It seeks to assess how the federal government and the oil firmsmanage oil spill incidents and the degradation of environment brought about by the oil spillage.

The results of the research have identified gaps and need for improvement to manage oil spills incidents to protect the environment.It has uncovered the need for the Nigerian environmental laws and policy to be updated. It is proposed that there is need for the government to set out strict obligation for degradation of the environment. The oil generating organisations in Nigeria should comply to international best practices in exploitation of oil and the Nigerian government should go past the limits of directive and control methodology to contamination abatement and embrace different suitable technology for oil spill control as well as involving inhabitants of the Niger delta region in the management of oil spill.

Table of Contents








1.1 Study Background 8

1.2 Statement of Problem 9

1.3 Aim and Objective 10

1.4 Significance of the Study 11

1.5 Scope of Study 11


2.1 Crude oil and Oil spillage 12

2.1.1 Crude Oil 13

2.1.2 Crude oil and Nigeria Economy 14

2.1.3 Oil spillage 14

2.2 Causes and Impacts of Oil spill 15

2.2.1 Causes of Oil spill 15

2.2.2 Oil spill incidents In Niger Delta 17

2.2.3 Impacts of Oil spill 18

2.3 Management of Oil spills 21

2.3.1 Bioremediation approach 23

2.3.2 International Co-operation 23

2.3.3 Mechanical Containment 24

2.3.4 Chemical and biological methods 24

2.3.5 Physical methods 25


3.1. Introduction 25

3.2. Research Philosophy 26

3.2.1 Epistemological and Ontological Assumption 26

3.2.2 Phenomenology and Positivism 26

3.2.3. Qualitative and Quantitative Research 27

3.3. Overview about Interview and Questionnaires 27

3.4 Interviews 28

3.5 Survey Questionnaire 29

3.5.1 Structure and design of questionnaire 29

3.5.2 Pre-testing Questionnaires 30

3.5.3 Administering the Questionnaire 31

3.5.4 Ethics and Analysis 31

3.6 Research Limitations 32


4.1 Participants description 33

4.2 Awareness 35

4.2.1 Knowledge of oil spill 35

4.2.2 Number of Oil spill 36

4.3 Causes of oil spill 38

4.3.1 Causes of Oil spill 38

4.3.2 Factors responsible for the cause of oil spill 39

4.4 Impact of oil spill 40

4.4.1 Amount of Inhabitants affected by oil spill 40

4.4.2 Main areas affected by oil spill 40

4.4.3 Degree of oil spill impact 41

4.4.4 Duration of oil spill impact 43

4.5 Management of oil spill 44

4.5.1 Control of oil spill 44

4.5.2 Approach towards oil spill 45

4.5.3 Prevention and response to oil spill 46

4.5.4 Social responsibility 48

4.5.5 Oil spill control performance 49

4.6 Summary 50

5.1 Conclusion 52

5.2 Recommendations 53

5.4 Reflective Analysis 56


6.1 References 58

6.2 Bibliography 60


Table 1:  Oil spill category 15

Table 2:  Oil spill incidents in the Niger Delta 18

Table 3: Respondents{participants} profile 33


Figure 1. Knowledge of oil spill 35

Figure 2. Experience of oil spill incident 36

Figure 3.Number of oil spill occurrence 36

Figure 4. Oil spill incidents 37

Figure 5.Causes of oil spill 38

Figure 6. Factors responsible for oil spill 39

Figure 7. Amount of inhabitants affected by oil spill 40

Figure 8. Main areas affected by oil spill 41

Figure 9.Degree of oil spill impact 42

Figure 10. Quantity of oil spilled 43

Figure 11. Duration of oil spill impact 44

Figure 12.Control of oil spill 45

Figure 13. Approach towards oil spill 46

Figure 14. Prevented oil spill 47

Figure 15. response to oil spill incident 48

Figure 16. Compensation for oil spill impact 49

Figure 17. Oil spill control performance 50


CNA Clean Nigeria Association

DPR              Department of Petroleum Resources

EIA Environmental Impact Assessment

FEPA Federal Environmental Protection Agency

NDDC Niger Delta Development Commission

NNPC Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation

NOSDRA National Oil Spill Detection

OPA Oil Pollution Act

LPG Liquefied Petroleum Gases 

NEST National Environmental Study Team 

SPDC              Shell Petroleum Development Company

FEPA The Federal Environmental Protection Agency 

EVOS                          Exxon Valdez Oil Spill


1.1 Study Background

In recent years, tremendous attention has been directed towards environmental deterioration by man’s activities which adversely affect the lives of plants and animals on land, water and air and even livelihood of people (OECD, 1976). One activity that has aroused considerable interest across the globe and especially in oil producing countries like Nigeria especially in the Niger Delta region is crude oil exploration. Crude oil exploration is one of such activity that can affect the environment negatively especially when accidents occur in operations resulting to spillage of oil. As a result of the impacts of crude oil operations to the environment, there have been actions in the activities of crude oil exploration across the globe toprevent the high risk of oil spillage and the accompanying environmental hazards (Ojakorotu and Gilbert, 2010). However, the exposure to risk has not been helped by the players in the oil industry who jostle for the ‘liquid gold’ thereby putting pressure on the oil producing communities and the surrounding environment. According to Egwu (2012), one of the factors that cause discharge of oil to the environmental is the unethical engineering operations practiced by the industries involved.

An example of the catastrophic impact of oil spill is the Exxon Valdez oil spill which occurred in Prince William Sound, Alaska, on March 24, 1989 with an estimated crude oil spill of 260,000 to 750,000 barrels and more recently the BP deep-water horizon oil spill on 20 April 2010 in the Gulf of Mexico caused by the explosion and sinking of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig. It caused an oil discharge for 87 days with an estimated the total discharge at 4.9 million barrels, (Egwu, 2012). As a result of lessons learnt from these and other oil spills, the prevention, response and management of oil spills is being given top priority worldwide especially in oil producing countries such as Nigeria in order to circumvent the economic and environmental hazards of an oil spill. To this end, several initiatives have come to the fore. One of such initiatives is to make and enforce laws and contingency plans for the prevention and control of oil spills. It is however curious that in most developing oil producing nations including Nigeria, the management of oil spill to prevent and respond to unwanted oil discharge even after so many years of petroleum exploration and production activities have not seen a reduction in the number of spillage occurrence. This has caused the government to resolve to grossly inadequate measure of monetary compensation to the victims of oil spill rather than concerning itself with the more appropriate solution of prevention and management to safeguard the environment, society and economy from the menace that is an oil spill.

1.2 Statement of Problem

Spillage of oil from exploration activities in the many parts of the world has lead to massive environmental degradation in the past decades. Such problems include contamination of water bodies, danger to aquatic life, destruction of flora and farmlands which includes resort centers, destruction of properties, loss of lives and many more (Badejo and Nwilo, 2008). 

In addition, oil spillage impacts to the environment can lead to unwanted migration of people from the areas. According to Nwilo and Badejo (2005), the consequences of oil spill is far-reaching as it impacts negatively on the economy of a region, pollutes water thereby health of the local community, contaminates soils rendering it useless for farming and the reputation of the oil companies involved. These environmental consequences are some of the impacts of oil spillage observed in the Niger delta region of Nigeria but could be more. Therefore the need for measures to prevent and control oil spillage in Nigeria cannot be overemphasized. The first step in managing crisis like oil spills would be identifying the factors responsible for the spillage and similar incidents management’s methods. With the outcome, better managerial approach can be adopted to prevent and respond to oil spills. The question that therefore arisesare;

A) What are the causes of oil spill occurrence in the Niger delta region of Nigeria?

B) What are the impacts of oil Spillage in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria?

C) What are the management systems adopted for control of oil spill in Nigeria?

Investigating these matters can also expose serious gaps in the management system for control of oil spill in the Niger delta region of Nigeria.  This increases demand for suitable systems to address the issue of oil spill in the Niger-delta region of Nigeria by the government and oil industries.

1.3 Aim and Objective

1.3.1 Aims

This research aims to investigate the causes and impacts of oil spill in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria and to identify the suitable management systems for the control of oil spillage so as to reduce oil spills in the Niger delta region of Nigeria

1.3.2 Objectives

To attain the above stated aim, the objectives stated below will be achieved:

⦁ Review of appropriate literatures pertaining to the study

⦁ Investigation of the variouscauses and impacts of oil spills in the Niger delta region.

⦁ Investigationof the management systems used in controlling oil spills in the Niger delta region.

⦁ Analysing acquired data and information of the subject matter. 

⦁ Identifying the main factors affecting the effectiveness of management systems to reduce oil spills in the region.

⦁ Proffering suitable management systems and providing recommendations to improve the management of oil spillage in the Niger delta region.

1.4 Significance of the Study

Research has a significant role to play in discovering approaches to prevent, respond, and manage issues like such presented by oil spillage in oil production activities in The Niger delta region of Nigeria. This study will critically investigate and analyse the causes, and provide recommendations for the improvement of the oil spills management in the Niger delta region of Nigeria, in order to reduce and where possible prevent the occurrence of oil spillages in the region. 

1.5 Scope of Study

This study is focused on oil spillage in the Niger delta region of Nigeria but particularly on causes and impacts of Oil spillage in the region and the management systems practiced in controlling oil spills in the area.  This study is necessary at the time considering the increasing environmental deterioration in the Niger delta region and presently the increase of migration of people from the rural areas to urban area. 

The Niger delta region of Nigeria is the source of over 90 per cent of crude oil, which is the main stay of the Nigerian economy. Oil accounts for over 90 per cent of the country’s export earnings and some 80 percent of government revenue.

More than four decades of oil exploration and production activities have left a severely degraded environment in Nigeria's Niger Delta oil region, through uncontrolled discharge of oil or its by-products including chemicals and wastes, The Niger Delta is located on the Atlantic Coast of Southern Nigeria. It is the second largest delta in the world with a coastline spanning about 450 kilometers and it has been described as the largest wetland in Africa and among the three largest in the world (NDES, 1997). 

About 2,370 square kilometers of the Niger Delta area consist of rivers, creeks and estuaries with stagnant swamp covering about 1900 sq. km. This is largest Mangrove swamp in Africa; the region also falls within the tropical rain forest zone. The ecosystem of the area is highly diverse and supportive of numerous species of terrestrial aquatic flora and fauna in addition to human life. The Niger Delta region cuts across nine states in Southern Nigeria which includes Bayelsa, Abia, Cross-River, Akwa-Ibom, Imo, Delta,Edo,Rivers, and Ondo States. The region has emerged as one of the most ecologically sensitive regions in Nigeria.



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