Our Logo

Our New logo
After careful and thoughtful design, ERA is proud to introduce to all its brand new and exciting logo.
It shows people standing in solidarity, hands linked together, determined to defend their environmental/human rights.
The "legs" represent our roots and shows how firmly we are rooted in the earth. And the green? Naturally stands for our life and the environment.
Thus, the message is clear.... the environment is our life ... Let's defend it!!!


Field Report #147 - Oil Rain in Ogoni Land
Tuesday, 04 April 2006

Location: K-Dere and B-Dere and Nkpor, (Ogoni, Rivers State, Nigeria)


  • Oil wellhead spills large volumes of crude into environment.
  • Farmlands and produce contaminated.
  • Shell had prior notice of the faulty wellhead.

Shell entered Ogoniland, a rural community in the Niger Delta state of Rivers, Nigeria in the late 1950s . Among the numerous oil facilities established in Ogoniland for sucking the crude oil buried underneath the soil was Bomu Oil Well 2 located in a landmass said to be jointly owned by Kegbara Dere and Beera in the Gokana LGA of Rivers State.

The unsavoury relationship between Shell and Ogoni collapsed totally in the 1993 when the Ogoni people decalred Shell as person non grata in their territory. What tenuous links remained collapsed totally following the oil mogul's involvement in the judicial murder of Saro-Wiwa, a symbol of the Ogoni struggle and 8 of his compatriots in 1995. Although Shell has not resumed operations in Ogoni, their facilities continue to be a threat to both the people and their environment. Among the facilities abandoned without servicing and maintenance was the Bomu Oil Well 2 in K-Dere/Bera of Gokana LGA.

The Bomu Oil Down Pour
On Thursday, March 23, 2006, Gokana people witnessed the life-threatening problems planted by Shell in their land before beating a retreat. The day started like any other normal day in the rural community without any premonition of danger. However, at about 4:30pm, what could be rightly described as oil down pour was witnessed as large volume of oil from Bomu Oil Well 2 shot up very high above the land through the oil well head before falling down like heavy rain, covering a vast expanse of cultivated farmlands. This unwanted rain went on unchecked for three days and was finally stopped by Shell on Saturday, March 25, 2006.

The impact was so bad that road users had to avoid the road leading to K-Dere and other communities such as Kpor and B-Dere or risk being drenched by the oil from the sky. \r\nSome Okadamen  who ran into the “oil rainâ€� were soaked by the crude oil. One of them told our field monitors that at first, he thought it was rainfall, only to discover, after entering the affected road, that it was crude oil. However, no casualty was recorded.

Although the extent of the damage has not been ascertained, it destroyed a vast area of farmland. Cash crops and food crops such as yam, cassava, coco yams, beans, maize, vegetables, pineapples, paw-paw, palm trees, coconut trees, etc were destroyed. The communities worst hit by the oil spillage are K-Dere and B-Dere, but the impact was also extended to other neighbouring communities such as B-Dere and Nkpor who also had farmlands around there.

Beyond those whose crops were destroyed, the entire Gokana people may feel the impact of the spillage as a result of the environmental or atmospheric and water pollution. When our field men visited the area on Friday, March 31, about 8 days after the incident, the atmosphere was filled with a stench of foul odour from the spilled crude.

Cause of the Spill
Knowledgeable sources said that the blow out may have been caused by mechanical fault in the well head. Rivers State Commissioner for Environment, Dr. (Mrs.) Rose Konya, for instance, said it was due to equipment failure given the age of the installation and lack of maintenance.

A councillor representing one of the wards in the Gokana council, and the chairman of Bera Council of Chiefs told our field reporters that they had been hearing unusual noise from the installation over a period of about 9 months before this incident. They further disclosed that the well head had been vibrating and leaking over a long period of time.

They further disclosed that a fire outbreak was averted sometime last year. Attention of Shell has been drawn to the problems noticed at the facility but Shell refused to take any step to put it in order. “If Shell had answered our distress calls, our people would have been saved this predicament�, a source told our field men.

Shell dismissed mechanical fault as the cause of the nightmarish spillage which reportedly spewed between 1,000 and 3,000 barrels of crude into the atmosphere and on farmland but claimed that it was as a result of sabotage, claiming that somebody must have tampered with a valve in the wellhead.

The community people suspect that DPR officials may have been compromised and may not issue a true report. They maintain that if sabotage is the cause, the saboteurs must be from Shell as the incident occurred few hours after Shell people were seen in the location. When the sabotage theory could not hold water, Shell was said to have claimed that the company personnel were not allowed entry into the facility, a claim which was debunked as the people insisted that they invited Shell to come and put the facility in order.

Actions Taken
As at 2.00pm on Friday, March 30 when our field monitors visited the devastated area, nothing had been done in terms of cleaning the mess by Shell. There were pools of crude everywhere. However, Shell staff, guarded by heavily armed mobile policemen and thugs allegedly provided by the local government council chairman were seen siphoning oil from the well. Also the community people were taking stock and identifying their portions of the farmland damaged by the spill.

This incident has further revealed Shell's insensitivity to the people of the oil-bearing communities of the Niger Delta. It also exposed how valueless the life of the local people of the Niger Delta is to Shell. Thus instead of putting the wellhead in order when it started developing problems, the company ignored distress calls and allowed the problem to degenerate. And after the spillage, they will not accept responsibilities and will not take steps to remediate the impacts.

What Must be Done

  • Shell should overhaul its facilities in Ogoniland and other parts of Niger Delta in order to replace all archaic equipment.
  • Shell should embark on the clean up of the affected areas without further delay. The company should ensure that it maintains internationally accepted standards.

What you can Do

  • Send a letter of protest to Shell today. Copy such correspondence to your legislative representative and the local media.
< Prev   Next >
© 2007 Environmental Rights Action / Friends of the Earth, Nigeria
Joomla! is Free Software released under the GNU/GPL License.