Feature

One oil spill that never stops

Since oil exploration began in the Niger Delta, multinational oil companies have spilled roughly 13 million barrels of oil—about 50 times the amount spilled in the Exxon Valdez disaster, said Anene Ejikeme in NewYorkTimes.com.

Anene EjikemeNewYorkTimes.com

Imagine if an environmental catastrophe like the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico occurred every year, in the same place, for decades, said Anene Ejikeme. That’s “what residents of Nigeria’s oil-producing Niger Delta have been living with” since 1958. Since oil exploration began there a half-century ago, multinational oil companies have spilled roughly 13 million barrels of oil—about 50 times the amount spilled in the Exxon Valdez disaster. The consequences have been devastating. “Dead fish and oily water are part of daily life for Niger Delta residents, as are gas flares” that perpetually illuminate the night sky. Local people cook, drink, and wash with badly polluted water.

Since they are dirt-poor and powerless, neither oil companies nor the Nigerian government show much concern for the continuing catastrophe. Royal Dutch Shell operates in 100 countries around the world, yet 40 percent of all of its oil spills happen in Nigeria, where companies operate “with little or no oversight from the government.” Shell, the largest operator in the Delta, doubled its oil spillage from 2007 to 2008, then doubled it again from 2008 to 2009. Does anyone care?

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