- Bayelsa State Oil and Environmental Commission (BSOEC) has released a report calling on international oil companies to spend $12 billion to repair environmentally impacted communities in the Niger Delta due to crude oil exploration for over six decades.
- According to the report, toxic pollutants from spills and gas flaring were many times higher than the safe limits in samples of soil, water, air, and in the blood of local residents.
- BSOEC recommends that the $12 billion will be used to restore impacted areas, create new jobs, provide drinking water, and treat health problems.
United Kingdom-based Bayelsa State Oil and Environmental Commission has said international oil companies (IOCs) to invest $12 billion in the Niger Delta region to restore communities that have been destroyed by oil exploration activities, facilitated by major IOCs.
According to the Bayelsa State Oil and Environmental Commission, Nigeria needs up to $12 billion to restore communities damaged by over six decades of oil exploration activities in Nigeria’s Niger Delta region. The Commission stated this in a report released on Tuesday May 16.
Bloomberg reports that Shell and Eni were among the companies mentioned in the report for continuous crude oil pumping which has resulted in the pollution of communities’ water bodies and lands. This pollution has impacted on fishing and farming activities in the Niger Delta region.
In the report, the Commission states that the government departments tasked with enforcing environmental standards lack capacity, independence and influence. The Commission recommends these measures to guard against further pollution:
- An overhaul of the regulatory and legal regime to allow heftier penalties.
- The introduction and fast-tracking of an arbitration body and removing the influence of producers from the fundamentally compromised spill oil inspection process.
According to Bloomberg, the report noted that the Commission started an investigation in 2019 on the impact of spills and looked at evidence from forensic scientists, blood samples from people in affected areas and company data.
The investigation revealed that toxic pollutants from spills and gas flaring were many times higher than the safe limits in samples of soil, water, air and in the blood of local residents.
The oil companies’ narrative
According to the report, the Commission has found failures of strategy, prevention, response and remediation by oil companies. A part of the report stated:
- “The firms have failed to properly invest in, maintain, manage and protect pipelines that develop spills at a rate unparalleled when compared to other major oil producing countries. There are also strong reasons to believe that the official statistics significantly and systematically over-state the number of leaks caused by sabotage while downplaying those attributable to other causes.”
Meanwhile, the companies have previously maintained that it is rather asset sabotage and illegal refining and not company equipment failure that have resulted in oil spills.
Solution for the affected communities
In the report, the Commission said the oil majors and the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL) that have extracted crude in Bayelsa state, should invest $12 billion to restore impacted areas, create new jobs, provide drinking water and treat health problems. The report stated further that the fund will require a parallel bureaucracy involving both domestic and international oversight.