Management of Oil Spill Dispersal Along the Nigerian Coastal Areas
Nigeria, one of the world’s largest oil exporters, has a coastline of approximately 853km facing the Atlantic Ocean. This coastline lies between latitude 4o 10’ to 6o 20’ N and longitude 2o 45’ to 8o 35’ E. The Nigerian coast is composed of four distinct geomorphology units namely the Barrier-Lagoon Complex; the Mud Coast; the Arcuate Niger Delta and the Strand Coast. 90-95% of export revenues in Nigeria is from the oil sector. Nigeria’s oil reserves are about 31.5 billion barrels, while Nigeria’s crude oil production averaged 2.118 million barrels per day in 2002. Oil spillage is a major environmental problem in Nigeria. Between 1976 and 1996 Nigeria recorded a total of 4835 oil spill incidents, which resulted in a loss of 1,896,960 barrels of oil to the environment. In 1998, 40,000 barrels of oil from Mobil platform off the Akwa Ibom coast were spilt into the environment causing severe damage to the coastal environment. Oil spillage has led to very serious pollution and destruction of flora, fauna and resort centers, pollution of drinkable water, destruction of properties and lives along the Nigerian coast. Oil spillage has also caused regional crisis in the Niger Delta. Factors responsible for oil spillage in the zone are; corrosion of oil pipes and tanks, sabotage, port operations and inadequate care in oil production operations and engineering drills. Waves, wind drift current, tidal current, ocean currents, bathymetry, vegetation and topography influence oil spill dispersal along the Nigerian coastal waters. Oil spill dispersal can be managed by using oil spill trajectory and fate models, oil booms and mops, surfactant chemicals, oil skimmers, absorbents and gels. The oil producing companies in Nigeria formed in 1981 the Clean Nigeria Association (C.N.A.) as a contingency plan towards managing major oil spill incidents along the Nigerian coast. Government parastatals like Department of Petroleum Resources, Federal Ministry of Transport and Federal Inland Waterways, and non-governmental agencies like the multinationals are stakeholders in the management of oil spillages in the country. Payment of compensations to spill impacted communities is part of the government’s drive in enforcing environmental regulations. Oil pollution in our coastal environment would be managed effectively if our government could set up regional spill response centers along our coastline. The use of area photographs and satellite imageries possibly from the newly launched Nigeria Sat- 1 would go a long way in managing oil spill incidents in the country.
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