Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Large Oil Spills are Old News in the Niger Delta - The Age

photo credit The Age via Jane Hahn/NYT

An oil spill the size of the Exxon Valdez has been occurring every year for 50 years in the Niger Delta. That's a total oil spill of about 546 million gallons. Spills are caused by faulty equipment which has gone unchecked for years, or by sabotage and oil pirating.

"The spills here are all the more devastating because this ecologically sensitive wetland region, the source of 10 per cent of US oil imports, has most of Africa's mangroves and, like the Louisiana coast, has fed the interior for generations with its abundance of fish and crops."

Oil companies are pretty content to play the blame game when it comes to the cause of the spills.

"Caroline Wittgen, a spokeswoman for Shell in Lagos, said: ''We don't discuss individual spills.'' But she argued that the ''vast majority'' were caused by sabotage or theft, with only 2 per cent due to equipment failure or human error. ''We do not believe that we behave irresponsibly, but we do operate in a unique environment where security and lawlessness are major problems,'' Ms Wittgen said."

Other sources, however, claim that a spill can be traced back to a corroded pipeline almost over year.

Full article here (The Age)

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