The Impact Of Oil Exploration On Agro-Ecological Zones

Project and Seminar Material for Agricultural Economics and Extension

The Impact Of Oil Exploration On Agro-Ecological Zones

Chapter One


1.1 Background Of Study

The search for oil deposit started in Nigeria, in 1908 by the Nigerian Bitumen Corporation but was interrupted by the outbreak of the first world war in 1914. Exploration again resumed in 1937 and the first well was drilled by Shell D’Arcy in 1938. Also their activities were interrupted by the Second World War in 1939 but resumed in 1947. In 1955, Mobil Exploration Incorporated received concession over the former Northern region of Nigeria, where the company carried out relevant geological surveys and also drilled some wells in the Western part of Nigeria. But before abandoning its concession in 1961, other Companies such as Gulf, Agip, Safrap (now Elf), Teneco and Amoseas (Now Texaco and Chevron) had also began exploration activities for oil in the on-shore and off-shore areas of Nigeria. Although Shell discovered oil in commercial quantities in Nigeria in 1956, at Oloibiri in the Niger Delta region and began production of the commodity in 1958, the “concessionary rights” which had formally been granted to Shell alone was extended to the new oil companies, in time with the government’s policy of increasing the place of exploration in the country.

Apart from the initial discovery of oil at Oloibiri, further oil discoveries at Afam and Bomu, confirmed Nigeria’s status as a major oil producing nation, (WRI, 1990). Hence Nigeria joined the organization of “Petroleum Exporting countries (OPEC)” in 1970 and later established the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) in 1971; a Federal Government owned controlled parastatal that operates a joint venture (JV) agreement with trace in other foreign multi-national Oil Companies in Nigeria to produce both the nation’s oil and gas. These oil industries have risen to the commanding heights of the Nigerian economy, particularly in the past five decades because it has brought unprecedented changes when it replaced agriculture as the cornerstone of the nation’s economy. Although Nigeria can be categorized as a country that is primarily rural which depends on petroleum production export, surrounding communities within which oil wells are exploited still suffer environmental degradation (Adenorti, 1996).

Environmental degradation leads to the deprivation of means of livelihood whereby the exploration and production activities of petroleum production carried out within inhabited environments has led to the poisoning/destruction of marine life including fish and other aquatic animals in streams and rivers, as well as rendering agricultural lands unproductive. Thus causing environmental refugees, whereby some of the farmers migrate to other more fertilize lands in other rural communities exerting pressures on scarce fertile lands while some of the displaced farmers migrate to the urban areas in search of other means of livelihood. Despite these problems recorded due to the inherent compensations that are envisaged, oil companies give little attention to the impacts of their activities on its host communities. In Nigeria, spillage of petroleum and its products is common and increasing for two major reasons;

  1. Occasional equipment failure at pumping stations and also leakages from ageing pipelines, some of them having been in place for over twenty years.
  2. Willful destruction of petroleum pipelines by poor and desperate people in rural and urban centres, with the aim of obtaining some products for illegal marketing, a situation described as economic sabotage.

The concern about the impacts of oil production is global because it is expected to be a problem especially in Nigeria, unless good management strategies together with active policing of operations are adopted to reduce the risk of oil – related pollution mediated by the following activities:

  • Seismis surveys
  • Drilling and Drilling wastes.
  • Canalization and dredge spoils.

Thus this research study intends to examine the problems associated with the spillage of petroleum and its products, as well as suggest possible solutions or remedies to curb the effects in Nigeria and its surrounding environment.

1.2 Statement Of The Problem

There is no doubt that the oil sector has affected Nigeria by playing an important role in shaping the economic and political destiny of the country. However petroleum exploration and production since its inception has impacted disastrously on the bio-physical and socio-economical life of the Oil – producing communities, threatening the subsistent peasant agricultural status of their environment which is the basic means of livelihood of the people.

The effects that oil pollution has had on human society have also led to anti-government movements and uprisings in many areas, as was the case of Ogoni people in Nigeria. Indigenous groups are made poor due to environmental degradation from oil production and lack of adequate re regulations on multinational companies, as they experience pollution, loss of lands, food shortages, health hazard, forced migration and unemployment.

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