Field Reports

  • Friday, 20th March 2009
    Introduction
    Between June and December, 2008 the Ikarama people and environment experienced five oil spills from Shell’s facility. The last of the above spills occurred on the 7th of December, 2008 along the Ughelli/Rumuekpe trunk line, at a spot that had ruptured some years back. Sadly, even though Shell Petroleum Development Company [SPDC] knew about the rupture and was at Ikarama the day after the spill occurred, the crude oil was allowed to spew into the environment for about seven weeks before SPDC returned to effect clamping. As a result, several thousand barrels of crude oil flowed freely into the nearby Obroun lake and, spread to the Oya lake and environs; destroying aquatic lives and deprived the families that owned the lakes a major source of livelihood.

    Even though SPDC awarded a recovery contract soon after clamping was done on the ruptured spot [on the pipeline], the uncontrollable fire that gutted the whole oil spill impacted area on Sunday 1st of March, 2009 and its resultant effect is still the subject matter here. Since this matter was tracked right from the early days of the spill [in December, 2008], it was only appropriate that follow up visits be made to keep pace with developments.

     

    Ikarama Visit
    Those who accompanied ERA’s Alagoa Morris to the oil spill/fire devastated lakes were some members of the Egberi-wari family of Ikarama, owners of Oya lake. They include Chief Luke Obonah, Mrs.Lucky Odoyibo[wife of the Head of Egberi-wari family], Mrs.Animite Kologa, Mrs.Julie Ogbonah, Pastor FearGod Kologa[former Deputy Paramount Chief of Ikarama]

     

    Testimonies

    Chief Luke Obonah  

    “This oil spill occurred on the 7th of December, 2008. After allowing the crude oil to flow into the Obroun lake and spreading to ours [Oya lake] for about seven weeks, SPDC came to clamp the leaking spot. Before the clamping, due to the negligence of Shell, slick of crude oil had spread over the surface of our lake and beyond. You already have some information about all these. Now, after they clamped the spot that ruptured, they awarded contract to recover some of the crude oil [recovery contract]. But, just two days of commencement of work by the recovery contractor, Shell ordered the contractor to stop work; withdrawing his Permission To Work [[PTW]. As ordered, the contractor stopped work and, while people engaged by the recovery contractor were waiting to hear when the job would continue, the next thing we saw was an uncontrollable fire on the 1st of March, 2009. This fire caused more damage to the environment; it extended to our plantain and banana farms, destroying everything on its path.

     

    Four days after the fire incident, Shell’s site Supervisor came back to site. I used the opportunity to ask him some questions. I asked him, Why are you here today after the fire? We have been inviting you before the fire incident and you refused to show up. Today you are here, how came about the fire? Who was the safety man you appointed to take care of the oil spill impacted site before you disappeared till? The answer to the last question was nobody. I then asked if Shell no longer regards safety as important. The site Supervisor said he could not answer that question. It was then I told him that the Oya lake owned by my family [[Egberi-wari] was not very close to the oil spill site, but SPDC allowed the slick to spread to cover the whole lake; destroying all the aquatic lives therein and rendering it useless. SPDC is also responsible for the destruction of plantain and banana farms by the resulting fire and I will demand for compensation from Shell.

     

    I told the site Supervisor that I will demand for my rights regarding the losses our family has suffered as a result of Shell’s negligence in failing to act promptly after the oil spill. I suspect Shell as the brain behind the fire. They are responsible for the fire because they withdrew the PTW without any good reason. They have done this to avoid the huge expenses involved in the recovery and eventual clean-up of the impacted environment”.

     

    Mrs. Animite Kologa

    “When the oil spill spread from the Obroun lake to our family lake [Oya lake], I was really disturbed because that was where I used to kill cray fish. I set my cray fish traps and checked them twice daily. The whole community knows that was the source of the cray fish I used to sell to support my family. In fact, I used some of the proceeds from the cray fish business to take care of my farming expenses like clearing new farmlands. The cray fish business used to assist me from year to year. It was painful that the oil spill affected that lake and denied me and my family one of our major means of making ends meet. It is a terrible experience. I would greatly appreciate assistance at this time”. 

     

    FearGod Kologa

    “You have heard from my family members. I don’t feel like saying anything. A Shell staff told me once that Shell is wicked. I believe that statement, Shell is wicked indeed. One thing I know is that we are not going to let Shell walk away with this injustice. We shall meet them in court very soon. Already we are consulting with our lawyer. As peace loving people that is the step we are going to take against Shell”.

     

    ERA Demands that:

  • Shell cleans up the polluted environment immediately.
  • Shell pays commensurate compensation to the affected community people.
  • Shell ensures proper maintenance of their pipelines and facilities to avert a reoccurrence.
  • Sunday, 1st March 2009
    Introduction
    While it may no longer be news that Ikarama community has repeatedly experienced oil spill incidents, it is rather sad to hear that crude oil spewed from Shell’s ruptured facilities in the area has never been cleaned up using internationally acceptable methods. If Shell decides to clean up, they hire a clean up contractor who attempts to recover some of the spilled crude. Oftentimes the clean-up contractor sets fire on the impacted sites, an act which further degrades the environment.

    This scenario played out again in Ikarama recently. ERA got a report of the spill fire from the women leader of the community, Mrs. Ayibakuro Warder. While approaching the community, ERA monitor observed the dark smoke rising above the location of the incident


    At Ikarama
    On arrival, ERA’s field monitor was led to the burning area by the Chief Security Officer of Ikarama, Mr. Washington Odoyibo. The area impacted by the December 7th, 2008 oil spill, all around the Oya and Obran lakes was on fire.

     

    Testimonies

    Mr. Washington Odoyibo
    “You may recall that we have been telling you about Shell’s attitude towards clean up in this community. They, through their contractors/staff, always set fire on oil spill sites. It is nice that you have come to witness this one. This is the second time these lakes [Oya and Obran] have been heavily polluted with crude oil spewed from Shell’s pipeline. This time around, after leaving the ruptured spot [on the pipeline] unclamped for almost seven weeks, Shell came and clamped. After that, they awarded contract for recovery. The recovery process had been on for about three weeks before this fire. The volume of crude oil on the lakes was very heavy, spreading to the swamps of our neighbouring communities; Kalaba and Ayamabele. We cannot say we were really surprised, but we noticed the rising of thick clouds of smoke around 9:00 am today. When we investigated, we discovered that it was coming from the oil spill impacted sites behind our community. Some parts of Kalaba are also affected by the fire.

    Shell has always hired some willing youths of the community to cause further degradation of our environment by setting fire on such sites. Like I said some time ago, these lakes and swamps used to be major sources of fish to most of our families here before they were polluted. Now, with what you are witnessing, you can see how our land, water resource and air are being polluted by Shell”.

     

    Napoleon Tamuno
    “Actually, I am not an expert on this matter but I know that this cannot be the best method to clean oil spill from the impacted environment. It is therefore not acceptable. Anybody who came here to see the volume of crude oil in the lakes would have been overwhelmed by the thickness; you could barely see water because of the high volume of crude oil spewed into them. It has spread even to Kalaba and Ayamabele communities, destroying all their swamps. Apart from loosing the swamps and lakes, with this burning you can see how the trees are falling. The raffia and palm trees, other economic trees and everything standing around the lakes are gone. Even though this is always Shell’s attitude we expect Shell to change and do the right thing.  They should effect real clean up of the environment and not increase our environmental problems. The fire couldn’t have started by itself; it was a willful act by some persons acting on Shell’s behalf”.

     

    ERA demands

    Shell’s practice of setting fire to oil spill sites is totally unacceptable. ERA demands that:

  • The regulatory agencies and ministries of Environment [State and Federal] monitor oil spill sites and ensure oil companies do the right thing at the right time.
  • Shell carries out proper clean-up in the affected spill sites.
  • Shell be called to order and fined for the acts of further degradation of the environment and total disregard for the people’s health and means of livelihood.
  • Friday, 20th February 2009

    Highlights

    • NPDC security officers bar local people from visiting their farms
    • Fear of fire outbreak forces community people to flee to Benin City
    • Six days after occurrence, gas leakage continues

    Introduction
    Ologbo Town is located in Ikpoba-Okha Local Government Area of Edo State, Nigeria. The town is made up of four major communities (Oghobaye, Imasabor, Ologbo and Itsekiri Riverside Communities) and marks the border between Edo and Delta States in the South. Different tribes such as the Binis, Ijaws, Itsekiris and Urhobos coexist in the town.

    The town also plays host to two indigenous oil and gas companies: Pan Ocean Nigeria Limited and the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC), a subsidiary of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC). The two companies own about 30 functional oil wells in the area and NPDC is currently drilling some new ones in the area. The crude oil extracted from the area is transported through a network of pipelines to Ovadje Flow-station in Delta State.

    Meanwhile, the Edo State House of Assembly has given a 48-hour ultimatum to the management of NPDC and Lone Star Drilling Company to stop the gas leakage from the oil well. The Speaker of the Assembly, Honorable Zakawanu Garuba, who gave this order at a plenary session, held on Friday 20, 2009, warned that the Parliament would not compromise the health, safety and welfare of the people of the state.

    NPDC gas leakage and its impact on Ologbo people and their environment
    On Sunday, 15 February 2009, a devastating gas leakage occurred at a new oil well being constructed by Lone Star Drilling Company on behalf of the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC) at Ologbo Town. The gas leakage, which is yet to be stopped as at the time of filing this report (Friday 20 February 2009), has completely disrupted farming activities in the town and forced many residents to flee to Benin City because of fear of possible fire outbreak in the area. Some residents of the town, who have decided to brace the odds by staying back in the town, informed ERA that they have been warned by NPDC security guards not visit their farms in the area, as any form of spark from their working tools (cutlass and hoes) or weed- burning could result in fire outbreak that would consume lives and property.

    Attempts by ERA field monitor to visit the site of the gas leakage so as to assess the level of environmental damage done by the incident and to ascertain the effort being made by the companies to curb the leakage were thwarted by NPDC security guards deployed in the area. The security guards, who refused to disclose their names, explained that they have been instructed by their superiors not to allow anybody, including the community people, to visit the site of the leakage. They argued that any form of spark created near the leakage site would lead to fire outbreak.

    However some community members who were determined to expose the environmental damage done by the gas leakage as well as the danger the incident poses to the local people, decided to smuggle ERA field monitor through a bush path to the leakage site, to enable him take photographs of the site and surrounding environment.

    From a distance of about 700 meters, one could hear the loud sound emanating from the gas leakage, just as tick cloud of gas enveloped the air in the area. The farms and vegetation around the site of the gas leakage have also started withering, due to the intensity of the leakage.
     
    Testimonies from community people
    In an interview with ERA field monitor, some community elders barred their mind on the cause of the gas leakage as well as the danger it poses to the people and their environment.

    Mr. Godwin Izekor (Member, Ologbo Community Representative Committee)
    "This incident (gas leakage) started on Sunday (February 15, 2009). The leakage was caused by the activities of Lone State Drilling Company, which was contracted by NPDC to drill some new oil wells for them in this area. Two new oil wells had already been successfully drilled by the company, before they encountered this problem (gas leakage). As they were drilling the third oil well they struck gas and the technical people could not deal with the problem immediately. So the gas has been leaking for the past six days (February 15 – 20, 2009). Since Sunday (February 15, 2009), when this incident occurred, many of our people have fled to Benin, because they are afraid that the gas leakage may eventually lead to fire outbreak.

    As I am speaking to you now, NPDC and Lone Star Drilling Company have cordoned off the affected areas and our people have not been able to go to their farms in that area. But these same companies have not deemed it necessary to supply relief materials to those whose livelihoods have been disrupted by this incident.

    Madam Esther Ojo (Women Leader, Ologbo Community)
    I was actually thinking of traveling to Benin City because of the danger that this gas leakage poses to lives and property in this community. But I could not do it because I am the women leader of this community. I have to make sure that our woman and children are educated on the need to avoid that area (gas leakage site) and not to do anything that would lead to fire outbreak in the community. Although the gas leakage has already destroyed some farms in that area and prevented people from going to salvage their crops in the farm, but I think life is more valuable than crops and property.

    The major problem we have now is that NPDC and the drilling company are yet to stop the leakage, even though it is almost a week since the incident occurred. However, I want you to let them know that they must pay compensation to the people affected by this incident.

    Mr. Lois Okahor (Farmer/ petty trader at Ologbo)
    I think you saw it yourself. Didn’t you see how the security guards deployed in that area by NPDC and the drilling company were interrogating people and turning people going to their farms back? That is what they have been doing since on Sunday (February 15, 2009). Their argument is that they don’t want anybody to go and ignite the leaking gas with fire, but how do they want people to survive without going to their farms. Why did they not supply the people with relief materials, since they don’t want them to go to their farms for now? For me, it appears the drilling company lack the capacity to deal with this leakage problem. They have been assuring us that they would soon fix it, but it is almost a week since the incident occurred and nothing has been done. I think the Edo State Government should be alerted, so that they can wade into this problem.

     

    ERA Demands
    In view of the seriousness of the current situation in Ologbo Towm, ERA demands that:

    • NPDC and Lone Star Drilling Company should take immediate steps to stop the gas leakage
    • NPDC, Lone Star Drilling Company and the Edo State Government should deploy fire service men and equipment to the Ologbo town while efforts are being made to stop the leakage
    • Relief materials should be supplied to those who have been prevented from going to their farms because of the fear that they could ignite the leaking gas with fire.
    • NPDC and Lone Star Drilling Company should be ready to pay adequate compensation to those whose farms and crops have been destroyed by the gas leakage.
  • Tuesday, 13th January 2009
    Highlights
    • Location: 5'8'', 6'27"
    • Community experiences continuous oil spillage for six weeks
    • Shell indifferent to the people’s plight

     

    Introduction

    Ikarama is an Ijaw speaking community in Okordia clan of Yenagoa Local Government Area, Bayelsa State. Five oil spill incidents occurred in the community between June and December 2008. The last spill occurred on December 6th 2008 and has continued till date without clamping by Shell (See ERA Field Report 190).

     

    ERA’s field monitor visited Ikarama again on January 13 and saw that crude oil was still spilling from Shell’s pipeline along the Ughelli/Rumuekpe trunk line. The magnitude of damage done by the spill is daily increasing as crude oil is flowing farther into community land, destroying fish ponds and farm lands and polluting the environment.

     

    Testimonies

    Speaking with ERA’s field monitor the Public Relations Officer of Ikarama, Mr. Raphael Warder said:

     

    “This has become another gift from Shell to our people. Since this oil spillage occurred on the 6th of December, 2008, about six weeks now, the company is yet to come and clamp the leaking spot on the pipeline. All the ponds around that area have been polluted and the spill has spread to our neighbouring community, Kalaba community. It would have even gone farther to other communities, but it was stopped by higher ground around Kalaba community. The Obran and Oya lakes have been completely destroyed.

     

    We heard that Shell will come for clamping today but as you can see, it is already far into the day and they are yet to appear. This is definitely not the type of relationship we expect from Shell. They have no regard for us at all; that explains why they can be so callous as to allow such a situation to continue.

     

    We call on Shell to please come and clamp the leaking spot and clean up the environment. It would have been better if our lawmakers came to see what we are experiencing. We do not know what else to do about this matter.

     

    We are grateful to ERA for your continued interest in our environment and people. It is only groups like yours that have kept hope alive on the need to protect the environment.”

     

    Other community members who were present at the spill site were Chief Mission Neberi and Mr. Beli Geoffrey. Mr. Mike Uagbae ,a Ph.D research fellow, accompanied ERA monitor on the visit.

     

    Observations

    ERA’s field monitor observed that the volume of crude spewed into the environment had increased and some of the plants in the lakes had started dying. Also, the colour of the crude oil which was yellowish had changed to black and a reddish colour. When a stick was dipped into the spot, it measured about 11ft into the ground. The crude oil was flowing freely from the leaking spot into the lake.

     ERA Demands

    ERA demands that:

  • Shell mobilises to site and clamps the leaking spot on the pipeline without further delay.
  • Shell carries out immediate clean up of the lakes and polluted environment.
  • Remediation follows the above action.
  • Shell ensures proper maintenance of their pipelines in order to avert these ceaseless oil spills in the community.
  •  

  • Sunday, 14th December 2008

    Highlights

    • Community experiences 5th oil spillage in seven months
    • Spill continues on day 8 without clamping

     

    Introduction

    Ikarama is an Ijaw speaking community in Okordia clan of Yenagoa Local Government Area, Bayelsa State. Five oil spill incidents have occurred in the community between June and December 2008. The latest spill occurred on December 6th 2008. See ERA reports numbers 184, 186 and 187.

     ERA’s field monitor visited the community on December 14th after receiving a report of the current oil spill. On getting to the site, we saw that the crude oil was still flowing with a humming sound that became louder as one got closer to the spot. The colour of the crude oil was yellow, like the yoke of an egg. The spewed crude followed the gradient and flows into the nearby lake.

     

    Testimonies

    Chief G. S. Okah, a member of the current Caretaker Committee of Ikarama and Mr. Washington Odoyibo, who is also the Chief Security Officer of Ikarama community.

     “Well, I thank you [ERA] once again for visiting us. We have explained our position to you before as it relates to these seeming endless oil spills in our environment. Hence, there is little or nothing one can say again. As for the socio-economic consequences, they are huge; almost invaluable. Except concerned groups like yours come to us and express solidarity, we have no support from other quarters; definitely not from Shell and the authorities. Our land, air and water resources, including lakes are continuously subjected to pollution from oil spill. I will say no more; you may go with Mr. Washington to see the damage done.”

     

    Testimony of Mr. Washington

    “I don’t stay in the community like before. I got a little job with SAIPEM recently so I go to work in Yenagoa daily except on Sundays. I was duly informed of the most recent oil spill. It occurred on the 6th of December, 2008. I tried to make enquiries but up till now I have not received any information as to the cause of the spill. I was told the spill actually occurred at the very spot of a previous spill; very close to the Oya/Obran lakes. This will be my first visit to the site since the current oil spillage started.”

    Speaking further, Mr. Washington said “I am really shocked that this crude oil is still flowing and polluting the lake. I thought Shell would have come to clamp the spot but you can see that they have done nothing to stop this damaging oil spill. Shell was in our community a day or so after the spill occurred. That was when we were conducting elections into community leadership; for CDC and Youth. It is sad to note that Shell has allowed the crude oil to continue flowing into the environment. Right now, we cannot imagine the hundreds of barrels of crude oil that have spilled into the environment. This is a continuation of the wicked acts of Shell staff/contractors against our people.

    I do not know the cause of this current oil spillage. If it is sabotage, it could be traced to some staff and contractors of Shell who have been taking undue advantage of some of our foolish youths. It is annoying; I am not happy at all. That is why I am ready to name names if need be. Unfortunately, the contractors will just give out about N150,000.00[One hundred and fifty thousand naira] to these youths to either set fire on the spill site or make an attempt at cleaning. The contractors will then smile to the banks.”

     

    Shell Implicated
    When asked whether he could actually name names, and what the community had done in the past to stop anything like sabotage, Mr. Washington said,

    “Yes, I am willing to mention names because it is very annoying. I make bold to mention Tunde, the Community Liaison Officer [CLO] at the Kolo Creek office of Shell. I say so because each time there is oil spillage here in our community he calls some community youths on phone to either Yenagoa or any other meeting point for them to discuss with the contractors. I am not hiding my bitterness as far as this issue is concerned. In the past I was instrumental in the arrest of some of these community youths. To our surprise, it was this same Tunde, Shell’s CLO, that came to the rescue of the arrested youths. He ensured they were freed immediately. Call me anywhere this matter requires my attention; I will come and testify. Things cannot continue like this; even our ancestors are angry at the way Shell is toying with us. Instead of giving genuine employment to the youths, they are engaging in unwholesome acts that destroy our environment and sources of livelihood”

    Speaking on the significance of the lakes, Mr Washington said, “We have some lakes in our environment that owners sometimes lease out for between N800,000.00 and N2 million per harvest season. During the periods of harvest, daily sales are sometimes up to N500,000.00. The harvesting can last for over two months. So, just imagine what the owners of these two lakes, the Oya and Obran, would be missing economically with this kind of oil slick that has covered the entire surface of both lakes. The Oya lake belongs to my family”

     

    Master Iperemo Ikioweri, 16 years old, who was also at the spill site with his brother, Idubamo Sambo, told of the impact of the oil spillage.

     “As we were going round now with you, I saw some dead fishes floating on the lake. It shows that the oil slick is dangerous to aquatic lives. This oil spill has continued for days now but Shell is yet to come and clamp the leaking spot on the pipeline. For us who are still under the care of our parents for almost everything: feeding, clothing, medicare and school fees, this oil spill will affect us badly if Shell does not come to stop it quickly. Now, the fishing traps of our parents and farms crops around this area are under serious threat. It is the proceeds of fishing and farming that aid our parents in caring for us. A severe case of oil spill like this can affect my schooling if my parents fail to pay my school fees. The situation could be worse if our ponds and farms are impacted; as we already find it difficult making it to the farm because of the current oil spill that has covered the pathways”

     

    ERA Demands

    ERA demands that:

    1     Shell clamps the leaking spot immediately and effects necessary repairs.

    2          Shell carries out proper clean up and remediation of the impacted area.

    3          Shell pays compensation to impacted community folks.

    4          The culpability of Shell staff/contractors should be investigated by a joint team comprising Shell, government, community folks and Environmental NGOs.

     

  • Wednesday, 3rd December 2008

    Okoroba, Bayelsa State: AGIP spill pollutes creeks, community forests and destroys community livelihoods. A resulting fire is right now moving towards the community. Click here to see pictures from visits to the affected areas.

    Full report coming soon.

  • Saturday, 29th November 2008

    LOCATION: Ugborodo community, Delta State, Nigeria

    HIGHLIGHTS: 

    • JTF Forces in collaboration with Chevron fire on peaceful protesters 
    • Several community members sustain gunshot wounds including women and children

    INTRODUCTION
    Aruntan-Ugborodo is an Itsekiri community of Delta state, Nigeria. The people are predominantly fishermen and petty traders. It is the closest community to a Chevron Nigeria Limited (CNL) Tank farm in the area.

    Ugborodo is made up of several small communities that includes Aruntan, Madanwo and  Ijala. The community is reached in 90 minutes by speedboat ride from Warri.

    {gallery}ugborodo{/gallery}

  • Monday, 21st April 2008
    LOCATION: Iguobazuwa Community, Ovia South West Local Goverment Area, Edo State.   HIGHLIGHTS
    • Michelin invades Iguobazuwa High Forest , bulldozes prime forest.
    • 80% of indigenous people are forest dependent.
    • Community dispossessed of farmlands.
    • Pressure mounts as multinational Michelin compels community representatives to sign
    • Memorandum of Understanding without clear understanding.
  • Sunday, 13th April 2008

    LOCATION: Gana Agbarha Otor, Ughelli North L.G.A, Delta State.


    HIGHLIGHTS:

    • Children escape death as fence collapses.
    • Shell given 14 days ultimatum to relocate families.
    • Shell and community now in court

     

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