ENI Oil Spill Pollutes Niger Delta

YENAGOA, Nigeria, December 5, 2013 – A large oil spill in the ENI’s Brass terminal has spread through the landscape of the oil-rich Niger Delta region, local residents and the company said on December 2, according to news agencies.

The oil facility is run by ENI, Italy’s biggest oil company. ENI said the cause of the spill was not yet determined.

“During loading operations on a tanker on November 27, an oil spill in the sea was seen. Operations were immediately suspended and resumed only after it was verified that the vessel’s structures were not damaged and were not leaking,” the company said in an emailed statement, according to Reuters.

Nigeria oil spill

One of many oil spills in Nigeria. Image source: AFP

Every year there are hundreds of pipeline leaks in the delta region, causing environmental damage manifested through blackened swamps, polluted water and death of biodiversity.

Local communities and oil companies are often arguing over the cause of oil spills, first saying the reason is old infrastructure or loading accidents, others it is theft and sabotage, a crime committed daily in the Niger Delta, where millions live in poverty.

According to a recent Amnesty International report, only ENI reported 471 spills in the Niger Delta, from January to September.

Nigerian legislators are considering a law to impose fines to companies responsible for oil spills, running up to tens of millions of dollars per year.

“I saw a very thick layer of crude oil on the river. The community is affected seriously. Our women and men whose main livelihood source is fishing are complaining bitterly to us that the whole river is full of oil,” commented Francis Clinton Tubo Ikagi, chairman of the Odioama fishing community in Bayelsa, to the press representatives over a vast oil slick he saw on November 20.

Oil companies are required to fund the clean-up of each oil spill and usually to pay compensation to affected local communities, if the oil spill was without doubt the company’s fault.