The Impact Of Oil Spillage On The Built Environment (A Case Study Of Sapele, Delta State)

Project and Seminar Material for Environmental Science

The Impact Of Oil Spillage On The Built Environment (A Case Study Of Sapele, Delta State)


Prospecting for oil in Nigeria started as far back as 1930s. Due to the economic reward from petroleum oil a lot of companies are scattered all over the Delta region of river Niger in quest of oil deposits. The act of oil prospecting and production cannot continue without immense benefits to numerous parties as well as causing hazards and occasional damages to other parties. It is the light of this realization that this project investigated and identified the various effects and the implications of locating and removing the extractive mineral (oil) from their resting beds.

Hence, the main objectives of this project examined the various operation of oil mining through the eye of town planner, as they affect man and his immediate environment. The various objectives are to investigate the effect of the pollution generated by oil mining on the built environment and to examine the effect of oil mining on the living condition of the people. The scope of the study was limited to SAPELE but for the benefit of the study, reference was made to other parts of the Delta findings was based on the data analyzed. Based on the data analyzed, recommendation was made to correct the impact of oil mining on the built environment.

Table Of Content

Preliminary Page(s)

  • Title page
  • Certification
  • Dedication
  • Acknowledgement
  • Abstract
  • Table of content
  • List of tables
  • List of map
  • List of plate

Chapter One


  • 1.0 General introduction
  • 1.2 Goal and objectives of the study
  • 1.3 Justification of the study
  • 1.4 The study area
  • 1.4.1 Location and extent
  • 1.4.2 Population
  • 1.4.3 Occupation
  • 1.4.4 Brief history of oil mining in sapele
  • 1.5 Scope of the study
  • 1.6 Operational definition of terms

Chapter two

Literature Review

  • 2.0 Introduction
  • 2.1 The impact of oil operation on the Nigerian environment
  • 2.2 Environmental degradation brought about by oil mining activities
  • 2.3 Gas flare and air pollution
  • 2.4 Compensation and development
  • 2.5 Government responses to environmental degradation
  • 2.6 Environmental protection and management in Nigeria
  • 2.7 Community relation in oil mining companies in Nigerian
  • 2.8 Prospect of oil mining activities on community –
  • 2.8.2 Factors which hinders oil company efforts to improve physical development of host communities

Chapter Three

Research Methodology

  • 3.0 Introduction
  • 3.1 Source of data collection
  • 3.2 Primary source
  • 3.3 Structured interview guide
  • 3.4 Questionnaire
  • 3.5 Secondary source
  • 3.6 Conduct of survey
  • 3.7 Sampling techniques
  • 3.8 Sample
  • 3.9 Scope and limitation

Chapter Four

Data Analysis and Presentation

  • 4.0 socio-economic study

Chapter Five

Summary of Findings, Recommendation and Conclusion.

  • 5.0 Summary
  • 5.1 recommendation
  • 5.2 conclusion
  • References
  • Appendix 1
  • Appendix 11
  • Appendix 11

List of Tables

  • Table i: showing place of origin.
  • Table ii: showing sex of respondent
  • Table iii: showing age of respondent
  • Table iv; showing occupational status
  • Table v: showing state of yield since the advent of oil mining.
  • Table vi: showing factors responsible for the state of yield.
  • Table vii: showing rate of satisfaction with hunting activities
  • Table viii: showing state of catch since advert of oil mining.
  • Table ix: showing what is responsible for the low turnout of catch
  • Table x: showing compensation paid

List of Maps

  • Map of Nigeria showing delta state
  • Map of delta state showing delta state
  • Map of delta state showing sapele.

List of Plate

  • Plate i: showing oil spillage on the Niger delta environment in sapele
  • Plate 2: showing oil spillage on the Niger delta environment in sapele
  • Plate 3: showing oil spillage on the Niger delta environment in sapele

Chapter One


1.0 General Introduction


“Man has the fundamental right to freedom, equality and adequate condition of life of dignity and well being and he bear a solemn responsibility to protect and improve the environment for present and future generation”
The mark of man activities on the surface of the earth is as old as the early beginning of mankind. Man’s existence on the earth has been a chain of struggles on the environment, seeking release from the artificial and natural problems arising from his own invention and enslavement (Uden 1988). Similarly, man has used all this ingenuity and effort towards conquering or exploiting the resources of nature.

Oil mining as an important economic activity in Nigeria has officially been going on since 1938, although it was first discovered in commercial quantities at Oloibiri in (1956) by the then shell B.P (now shell petroleum Development Company of Nigeria limited SPDC). Since then, other companies like Texaco, NNPC, Mobile to mention a few also took up oil prospecting some few years later. (Onyeonwu, 1995)

Natural gas mining is just beginning in comparison with the prospecting for oil which has been going on for over the past fifty years now. When colonel Edwin Drake of Titus Ville, pennsyania in (1859) drilled the first a well and discovered that the rock oil could yield a distilled product (kerosene) little did he know that this source of energy will be eagerly sought. At the end of 1909, there were almost 600,000 producing oil wells in over 60 different countries with Nigeria inclusive. And as more uses of petroleum oil was discovered more countries has become attracted to oil mining and production.

One does not requires a pope to tell one that these activities of oil prospecting or mining could not continue without immense benefits to numerous parties as well as pose hazards and occasional damages to other parties. With this realization of oil mining, it becomes necessary to effectively identify the various implications of the effect of locating, removing the mineral (oil) from their resting beds. this could be done by conducting survey on the impact o f oil mining on the built environment, also to find out from the affected communities the socio-economic benefits derived from the act of oil mining and lastly to investigate and know the various hazardous effects that could be afflicted and /or damages to the ecosystem.

Exploitation and exploration of oil and gas is inevitably associated with environmental degradation, thus the activities involved in oil mining ought to be followed with pragmatic and implementable environmental protection policies. This is more crucial in Nigeria where the bulk of the oil producing communities are situated in the Niger Delta, which has a fragile terrain.

It is imperative therefore, to have a careful analogy so as to arrive at a sound conclusion without bias or any external influences on good judgment.

1.1 Statement Of Research Problem

It may be appropriate at this point to analyses the various problems posed by the art of impact of oil mining. Hence the quest for oil mining activities from the communities where oil is mined demand a critical look so as to understand the impact from oil mining. All stages of oil mining exploitation affect the environment negatively, a major devastating effect of oil mining is oil spillage oil spillage has occurred in many part of the Niger Delta where minerals is tapped or exploited and sabotage, accidents and unknown sources are among various causes of oil spill. Oil spill can be devastating to the environment involved, if directly affected especially in the dry land and waterways where the effect is concentrated in particular locations. Oil spill usually form higher pressure pipeline and therefore sprout over a wide area, destroying crops, fish pond, rivers, lakes, streams, creeks and economic trees i.e economic valuable trees including those growing “wild” but owned by particular families. Even a small leak can thus wipe out a year food supply for a family, with it wiping out income from product sold for cash, the consequences of such loss of source of livelihood can range from children missing school because their parents are unable to afford the fee to virtual destination. On March 27, 1998, a spill of 20,000 barrels (840,000 U.S gallons) took place from shell’s creek flow station, Delta State, in the brackish water of the mangrove forest killing large number of fish. In tidal salt water areas, where fishing grounds tend to be open, individual families are less likely to be totally wiped out, while spills will in any event dispense more quickly. Nevertheless, big spill can still have a significant economic effect: following the mobile spill of January 1998, savings by Sherman into microcredit schemes set up at a B.P./Sta/oil development project at Akassa, on the Atlantic coast, dropped appreciably. Similarly, since in most area of the Delta drinking water is drawn straight from streams and creeks, with no other option available to the local people, a spill can cause severe problems for the population dependent on the water source affected, even if it dispenses rapidly and the water soon returns to its previous condition. On several occasions, people sick that drank the water, especially children. In January 1998, a Nigerian radio reported that about one hundred villagers from communities affected by a major spill of January 12 1998 had been hospitalized as a result of drinking contaminated water.

Dredging destroys the ecology of the dredged area. Although dredged material is in principally dumped on land, some of it will inevitably slip back into the water, increasing turbidity, reducing sunlight penetration and thus plant life and possibly driving away fish. Dredged materials in mangrove areas will turn acidic once exposed to oxygen, and silt dredged as a result of canalization and dumped on cultivated leaves can decreased farm yields. Similarly, drilling for oil produces waste, largely mound, which is itself a relatively harmless but in large quantities can cause problems by changing acidity or saline levels of the soil or water and by increasing turbidity of water. Site preparation for drilling often involves clearance of vegetation and dredging in the riverine areas.

A world bank (1995) study estimates that Nigeria flares more gas than any county in the world approximately seventy-six percent of the “associated gas which is produced as a by – product of crude oil extraction from reservoir in which oil and gas are mixed. Flaring (Gas) contributes a measurable percentage of the world’s total emissions of green house gases, due to the low efficiency of many of the flares much of the gas is released as methane (which has a high warming potential) rather than carbon dioxide. A study of flares in the environment by Ikelegbe 1993 found that air, leaf and soil temperature were increased up to eighty or one –hundred meters from the stack and species composition of vegetation was affected in the flares area. In some cases, inefficient technology in the flare means that many of them burn without sufficient oxygen or with small amount of oil mixed in the gas creating soot that is deposited on nearby land and building, visibly damaging the vegetation near to the flare. Respiratory problems among children as a result are reported, but apparently un researched.

The most noticeable, yet generally unremarked effect of the flare is light pollution, across these region the night sky is lit up by flares, that in the raining season, reflect luridly form the clouds. Residents close to flares complain that nocturnal animals are disturbed by this light and leave the area making hunting more difficult.

In some case, gas flares are very close to residential, shell petroleum company claims that this is usually because settlement have grown up around the oil facilities . in any events the flares are rarely if even relocated or even made safe by providing secure fencing. In July 1997, human right watch observed women climbing right into the blinded (walled) pit where a flare was burning, to spread out cassava for drying on the earth close to the flame. A malfunction in the flare or missed footing could have fatal consequences; it is also likely that the soot from the flares would contaminate the cassava.

Seismic activities involves the setting off of small explosive charges along a grid of narrow path over the area being surveyed resulting in a number of deletions environmental effects. The total area and forest resources lost to seismic limes is considerable. Forest trees (mangrove and swamps) are cut down, leading to loss of species. Seismic parties usually involve large numbers of people that constitute a further menace and serious disturbance to these sanctuaries of rare and something endemic biota.

Opening up of seismic lines and pipeline routes, create channels and access to loggers and hunters who had hitherto been denies access to these pristine ecozoones protected by difficult terrain. The result is reckless, uncontrolled and unsustainable exploitation of forest resources including non-timber forest products, and eventual degradation and sometimes loss of habitat.

Additionally, when seismic charges are denoted, the shock waves create unintended side effects on the sub-surface environment as well as on the wild life. In the aquatic environment, seismic explosions are known to cause the destruction of aquatic biota including fish, crab, lobsters etc.

As noted, earlier, the exploration, and exploitation of oil involved a number of activities that directly affect the lives of the oil producing communities. This impact is not only limited to their physical environment but their social and spiritual life as well. It touches, for instance, their relationship with their ancestors through their shrines, and their whole cultural and spiritual life. This project therefore, is to look into these problems and find possible solution to the Stated questions:

To meet up with the objectives of the study, the project seek to address the following question:

  1. How does an oil mining activity begin, and what are the levels of pollution on the built environment?
  2. What is the locational effect of oil mining activities on the environment?
  3. What are the measures taken so far to address this problem.

Any attempt to finding answers to these probing questions will help to determine the impact of oil mining activities on the built environment.

1.2 Goal And Objectives Of The Study

The goal of this research is to articulate measures that will alleviate the negative impacts of oil spillage activities in Sapele and its environs and ensures a quality environment condusive for human habitation.

From the above goal, the objectives of this study Stated as follows;

  1. To investigate the effects of the pollution generated by oil mining on the built environment (on land, air, and water).
  2. To examine the effect of oil mining on the living condition of the people.
  3. To determine the locational effects of oil mining
  4. To assess the measures taken by these oil company to redress these environmental problems.
  5. To recommend ways of alleviating these problems

1.3 Justification Of The Study

The significant of this study is to made known the impact of or effect of oil mining operation on the built environment. This study in its ramification is of immense importance not only to planners but of various related professions like the health official, the agriculturist, the industrialist etc. the importance of this study to planners is for them to know the degree of havoc that oil mining has brough to the environment and find way of correcting these effect of oil mining through the recommendation given in the project. Also the study is of immense help to health and sanitary officers in planning for environmental protection. The people will be properly educated to exercise good human relation with any oil company in area of study.

Lastly, this study will give federal, State and local government a chance to check the excesses of these oil mining operation and make laws binding on the environment and see that it is in furthest adhere to.

1.4 Study Area.

Sapele: Location And Extent, Population, Occupation

Sapele by all standards is an urban area. the main language spoken in Sapele is okpe, but due to its urban nature, pidgin English and English are spoken also and other tribe like iteskiri, Yoruba are also spoken.
Historically, Sapele founders has been traced to have a Benin origin as is believe by other dialet of urhobo’s.

1.4.1 Location And Extent

The ancient town of Sapele is located in the North-Eastern part of Sapele local government area in Delta State.
Geographically, Sapele is situated between the latitude 50 and 60 East of the green wish meridian. It is on the west border of Delta State having a distance of about 52km form Edo State its neighbor stretching form about 105km along the Ethiope river and within 3km on the left bank with Okirigh were and Amukpe covering an area of about 1680hectares as at 1980, by 2001, it was estimated to be about 3500hectares of land. The built up area is said to be urban and semi-urban.

The Sapele area of Delta State has been blessed with low land terrain, but also swampy. The swampy nature of the area is as a result of river which surrounds the town and villages in the study area. The topography generally is fair because it makes farming easy for the people, land use is distributed among the various land uses in the built environment. They are residential, commercial, industrial, institutional and agricultural uses. The residential land use can further be classified into three broad categories, the low, medium and high density residential areas.
Commercial land uses are of mixed type. That is residential and commercial land uses are mixed up. However, some commercial land uses are not mixed, e.g petrol station market (Sapele market) commercial banks (all State, first bank, union bank). These are in different locations.

Institutional uses are mainly the various institution found in the area which includes technical school, secondary school, primary and nursery school located at various places in sapele. Also general hospital and private clinics and health centers.

Industrial land use are mainly light and heavy industries: Eternit roofing company, life flour mill, palm kernel mill etc.

Agriculture land use are mainly on cassava, plantain, okro, maize etc.

1.4.2 Population

Sapele local government area was curved out of the then okpe local government council on 3rd may, 1989. By the 1991 population census, the total population was 142, 652. At a growth rate of 3% using population projection growth rate, the population for 20022 will be 225,646. See calculation in appendix.

1.4.3 Occupation

Farming is one of the major occupations of the Sapele people. Although some of the people take to trading and fishing seasonally. Crops produced in Sapele are: Rubber, palm trees, raffia palm, oil coconut, mango, orange, peer, gwaver etc. food crops are cassava, okro, plantain lastly, timber, oil and gas are found and flare in Sapele. Trade is another source of livelihood in Sapele. A good number of the inhabitants are fulltime traders while a few arguments trading with government jobs. Industrial development is small scale such as bakery, carpentry, so making, furniture making, tailoring, welding or black-smiting cassava grinding e.t.c.

Some of the residents are civil servants either working in the local government council, the various ministry and higher place of teaching e.t.c. other places where government jobs are undertaken in Sapele are the General Hospital, Water Board, Nitel, General Post Office e.t.c.

1.4.4 A Brief History Of Oil Mining In Sapele

Oil mining in Sapele started in 1966 when shell petroleum development company (SPDC) first struck oil in what is known today as Sapele West. By 1968, over six oil well has been dunged and a few station established (personal communication with Sapele West field office). The Amukpe flow station established later added to the number of flow station.

In 1973, shell Development Company expanded its operation to the other field. By year 2000, shell development company operates over twenty-eight (28) oil well, two flow stations, one jetty, one helipad and several oil and gas pipelines in Sapele west, shell development company is currently drilling three oil wells in other field. Shell Development Company also has a gas mining agreement with Nigeria gas co-operation (NGC).

1.5 Scope Of The Study

The study confines itself to Sapele local government area of Delta State of Nigeria. For the purpose of this study and owing to the fact that oil is not exploited only in Sapele but other parts of the Delta as well, we will make reference to the area.

The study covers the mining of oil from these area and the negative effects of oil mining. In terms of data collection, the survey was carried out where the impact of oil mining is felt and the problem mention above (Statements of problem). The survey covers the socio-economic characteristics of the inhabitants of the study area, the effects of oil mining on the various activities namely farming, fishing, and hunting. It took into influence of oil mining on the economic activities of the people; the rural community development embarked upon by the oil industry was researched.

1.6 Operational Definition Of Terms


The oxford advanced learners English dictionary defined “ENVIRONMNT” as conditions, circumstances e.t.c. affecting people’s lives. It is the complex of physical, chemical and biotic factors that acts upon an organism or an ecological community and ultimately determines its form and survival (Encyclopaedia Britannica, Vol 14). It can also be said to be forces of nature and the plant and animal around him. The environment being anything else but me is an all embracing term (scope, 1975).

Environmental Impact

This is the change in an environment parameter over a specified period and within a defined area resulting from a particular activity compared with the situation that would have occurred had the activity not been initiated.

Built Environment

The built environment as used in this study comprises of the various and uses and those defined area the impact of oil mining is felt.

Environmental Protection

Environmental protection is the process of defending the environment from harm, danger and spoilage. It involves maintaining sustainable and desirable ecological system.

Environmental Degradation

By environmental degradation, we mean a decline in the total issues that surround man and his physical activities. When there exist much problems and when the condition or State of the environment is below what is acceptable in standard, then the environment is said to be degraded.

Chapter Five

Summary of Findings, Recommendation and Conclusion.

5.0 Summary

This study has made attempt to examine the most noticeable effects of oil spillage on the built environment of Sapele. While the discovery of oil has brought a lot of good economic fortunes to Nigeria, it has created a lot of socio-economic and ecological damages in the community where oil is exploited. These distortions are in the form of oil spillage, gas flares and concomitant socio-economic dislocations. These problems have had divesting effect on the built environment and equally affect the various occupational activities. The effect of oil spillage on farming which is a major occupation of the study area has cause a decline in cash and food crops, loss of land e.t.c. these impact of oil spillage has equally affected the hunting and fishing activities of the study area by reduction of games and vanishing of special specie from the forest. This is due to opening up of forest to construct access road to oil well and gas flare.

These effects of oil mining on the built environment has made many of the occupant to engage in other occupational activities like public jobs, business/Artisan and a mixture of both of the occupational activities mention in the project. Oil mining in the study area has equally brought development by the provision of roads, block of classroom, pipe-borne water e.t.c not withstanding these developments, the negative impact of oil spillage has done more harm to the environment and equally has affected the life of the people.

5.1 Recommendation

After a careful study of the area and having discovered some of the problems facing the study area the following recommendations have been considered as means of ameliorating the problems associated with the area.

Oil Pollution

The survival of man as specie depends on maintaining the delicate balance between human activities and the environment we inhabit. Operational control of oil pollution should be preventive rather that remedial. While it is true that little can be done to protect the environment from pollution, accidents, hazards arising from an operator’s non-conformity with good oil field practice can be prevented.

Based on the above fact, there is an urgent need therefore, to clearly spill out what is meant by oil pollution in our status books and providing unambiguous laws to protect the environment from the insidious source of environmental degradation.

For effective pollution control and contingency plans, there is need for the following:

  1. Long-term scientific monitoring schemes to identify or detect and quantify local source of pollution.
  2. Initiation of environmental impact assessment studies for all proposed new facilities to describe the environmental base setting in order to fully appreciate later effects in such areas.
  3. In order to reduce oil spillage resulting from equipment failure or malfunctions, sabotage, corrosive e.t.c. the oil companies should develop a functional periodic engineering audit, operation and maintenance programmes, public campaign to the grass roots should be undertaken by the industry and the government, to discourage acts of sabotage. Lastly, the protection to corrosion (pipelines, tanks e.t.c.) should be effected.
  4. Make public all documents relating to payments gifts or contracts relating to operations in the oil producing communities including payment of compensation for oil spillages
  5. Undertake a review of laws affecting the relations of oil company with the community in which they operate including the land use act, the petroleum production and distribution (Anti-sabotage) Act, the petroleum decree and its subsidiary legislation, and other laws regulating payment of compensation for damage to livelihood caused by oil spillage, with a view to ensuing that those adversely affected are adequately compensated and protected by due process of law.
Improving Community Relations

In Nigeria, local people in the oil producing area are known to have occupied rigs, barricaded operational areas and have massively demonstrated to invite attention to their plights. All these actions tend to prove strained relations between the oil companies and the community in which they operate. This strained relations further demonstrated greater need for improved community relations.

Therefore we have the following recommendations:

  1. Oil companies require a social policy formulated by a committee of people elite from community where oil is mined, government functionaries and oil company personnel.
  2. Ensure the widest possible consultation of the people who will be affected by oil installation in planning the greatest possible transparency in what is planned, to ensure that oil operations have the consent of those who will suffer the negative impact.
  3. Support the development of civil society in Nigeria by co-operating with non-governmental organizations for human rights and environmental research and advocacy, and with universities and states engages in academic research and policy development in those areas.
  4. Review programs of community assistance to ensure that development projects are planned by people who are professionally trained, that all members of communities can participate in devising development plans-and not only elites who already have good relations with oil company, and that projects genuinely address the needs of the people in those communities. Consider establishing independency and professionally administered funds for this purpose.
  5. Ensure special knowledge of area of operation by the oil company. This will aid them to drowse the kind of project they could execute in favor of the community people.
  6. Oil Company operating in the community should donate fertilizers to the people whose land are affected by oil pollution.
  7. Oil company should aid farmers in their area of operation in embarking on large scale production of crops, artificial fish pond should be encourage and loans be given to fishermen to invest in large scale fish farming.
Government Effort To Check Oil Pollution
  1. Government and Oil Company should embark on projects aimed at the restoration of the degraded natural ecosystem of the area.
  2. Government should Endeavour to harmonies development and conservation in order to attain sustainable development in the community.
  3. Government should consider concessionary relief for multinational oil companies, whose expenditure on socio-economic programmed for host communities exceed a certain agreed percentage of their total operating cost. This would be an incentive for the oil companies to render more assistance to their host communities.
  4. Government laws concerning oil operation in the country should be effectively carried out to the fullest so as to check excesses of these oil companies who relent on their social responsibility.

5.2 Conclusion

Though, the discovering of oil and gas in Sapele local government area has brought numerous development to the general populace such as roads, potable water, and other benevolent gestures from the oil company, it still had brought some negative impacts.

The mining of oil has not only reduced the land available for farmers, but has also reduced the productive capacity of some land. This in no small way has led to the depletion of the population of the area. oil company exploration and exploitation of oil and gas contributed in no small measure to the ecological degradation and environmental pollution, which have adversely affected the people’s quality of life.

This situation is worsened when inadequate compensation is paid for ecological damages and polluted farm lands and rivers due to oil exploration activities.

However, with the implementation of the above recommendations, the foregoing negative impact imposed on the study area will be minimized. This will lessen the impact of oil operation and also improve community relation with Oil Company.

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