There is again a report of an oil spills in the Niger Delta region. This time the incident occurred in Ibeno local government area of Akwa Ibom State.

According to a community chief in the area Chief Daniel Akpan the Village head of Ikot Otio Nana village the spillage is said to be from a ruptured pipeline which have defied many attempts of repairs.

Chief Akpan claimed the said pipeline had spilled crude oil on many occasions causing destruction of farmlands, rivers and environment. The operating oil company running the pipeline is Chevron Mobil corps and they appeared reluctant to fix the damage spots properly to forestall future occurrence.

Crude Oil spillage is a familiar occurrence in the Niger Delta and is rated as a top reason for the agony and pain experienced by the Niger Delta people. It has caused sorrows and losses and pains ever since 1950 when crude oil was first discovered in Oloibiri village in Rivers state.

An oil spill is the release of a liquid petroleum hydrocarbon into the environment especially marine areas due to human activity, and it is a form of pollution.

It has been established that 50% of oil spills in the Niger Delta are caused by pipelines and tankers accidents. 28% of oil spills are caused by sabotage from Niger Delta Militants and economic saboteurs. 22% of the oil spills are caused by oil production operations including inadequate maintenance and inspection of production equipment’s, pipelines, tankers and oil infrastructures.

A serious issue responsible for oil spills in the Niger Delta is the fact that most of the pipelines and the flow lines are laid above the ground and are many years old with some above twenty years old. Corrosion which is prevalent in the coastal areas eat up these pipes leading to rust and eventually to leaks and sometimes bursting of the pipelines.

There is also another problem of sabotage of the pipelines by oil thefts through siphoning of the oil through a process of bunkering. Most times during the process of bunkering the pipelines are damaged.

The Department of Petroleum Resources , a division of NNPC reveals that out of a total of 2.4 million  barrels of crude oil spilled in Nigeria between  1976 and 1996 in about 4,835 incidents which amounts to about 220,000 cubic metres,  1.89 million barrels of oil were spilled into the Niger Delta region.

Also between 1976 and 2001 it is stated that a total of 6,817 incidents of oil spills were recorded according to a UNDP report. It was also noted by that report that the oil spills amounted to over 3 million barrels of oil of which over 70% was not recoverable. Out of the spilled oil it was observed that 70% occurred off shore, 25% was in the Niger delta swamp while only 6% was spilled on land.

There had been recorded cases of large and major oil spills in Nigeria since oil was discovered in the 50s two major ones among them are:

The 1980 blowout of Texaco oil station which spilled 400,000 barrels of crude oil (64m2) into the Gulf of Guinea. The Royal Dutch Shell ‘s Forcados Terminal tank failure which spilled 580,000 barrels (92m2) into the Niger Delta. It is estimated that over 15 million barrels of oil has been spilled in the Niger Delta since 1958.

The consequences of oil spills in Niger Delta are widespread havoc and destruction of both the environment and vegetation. Thus the four Niger delta’s ecological Zones of coastal barriers islands, mangrove swamp forests, freshwater swamp and lowland rain forest are threatened by continued oil spillage.

Also threatened by oil spills in the Niger Delta are the abundant flora and fauna, arable terrain sustaining trees and crops such as lumber, agricultural trees, mangrove and freshwater fishes which exist there in abundance.

It is feared that the Niger Delta is in risk of losing over 70% of their vegetation and being overwhelm by a heavily polluted and toxic environment if the incidence of crude oil spillage is not reduced drastically if not completely stopped.