Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Ripple Effect: The Impact on Niger Delta

The Cost of Oil - The Atlantic 

An Overview

Beneath the blackened depths of Nigeria’s Niger Delta, there isn’t an ounce of uncontaminated water to be found.  In what was once covered with crystal blue water has slowly disintegrated into a dark body of oily muck – tarnished, burnt and crumbled by decades of contamination.  This eerily transformation is not without a catalyst.  Decades of oil spills have damned the once thriving Niger Delta into a hazardous wasteland – and water.  Despite cries of help, the damage on the Niger Delta is ongoing.  These destructive oil spills are optimized by 2014 documents that reported Royal Dutch Shell and ENI – two predominant oil companies – of leaking 204 and 349 spills respectively [1].  All in one calendar year.  Given this, it comes to no surprise that Nigeria was reported as having the highest oil spills in the world [2]. 

Nigeria has been riddled with decade long oil spills that have severely impacted its people and environment.  The oil pollution has damaged the Nigerian ecosystem - shutting down avenues for water and food resources in a country where such access is already severely limited.  It’s not only the living organisms that have suffered, but the severe human cost associated with oil pollution.  Hazardous pollutants create a dangerous predicament for the Nigerian community, families and children.  Illness, disease and other health effects are prevalent, where they are often worsened by the lack of health care in the country [3].  The Niger Delta acts as a glaring symbol of the human and ecological costs associated with oil spills.  One that provides a devastating reminder of the human impacts hat plague the entire country.  Yet, it also showcases the damage that confronts many countries, whose lands have been continually drilled for oil.  Whether it be the spillage from drilling or transport, the associated damage is profound [4].  

Price of Oil - Greenpeace UK
Niger Delta - National Geographic

Why it matters....

How does the Niger Delta relate to us?  The human cost of the Niger Delta is part of a large ripple effect.  One that circles back to an excessive need, reliance and use of oil.  While most would attribute oil with gasoline use, many of us are unaware of oil’s ubiquity in our everyday products.  These are the taken-for-granted products that are unconsciously used and sometimes abused.  They can be in the everyday trash bags we use, the disposable bags at the supermarket, our toothbrushes – even our shampoos!  Even as I type this blog post, I can identify the oil in my keyboard, monitor, the headphones I’m wearing and the speakers attached to my computer.  Oil is ubiquitous and hidden in the fabric of our everyday lives.  You would be hard-pressed to find something not made from oil, crude oil and petroleum [5].  As the need for oil increases, lands are continually drilled and a greater chance for destructive oil spillage is increased around the world. 

This aim of this post is not to guilt you from using oil products altogether.  It is also not meant to scare you from using products containing oil.  It is meant to be an eye-opening look at the ubiquity of such everyday products.  An effort to draw attention to our unconscious use of oil, crude oil and petroleum products.  At its core, the devastating and damaging oil spills in Nigeria showcases the sheer amount of oil being distributed around the world.  As it relates to the everyday products we use, individuals must gain a stronger awareness of hidden oil.  The costs are real and the future of oil scarcity is not inconceivable.  It’s important for individuals to be aware of these issues and of oil usage.  Only from awareness can we truly reflect on the hidden cost of oil and what it means.  A major cost? One would have to look no further than the utter decay of the Niger Delta to understand its sheer impact and why this matters. 

Direct links for further reading:

References and Resources:

[1] Nigeria: Hundreds of oil spills continue to blight Niger Delta. (2015, March 9). Retrieved from

[2] Umoru, H. (2012, November 14). Nigeria has highest oil spill in the world. Retrieved from

[3] Edoigiawerie, C., & Spickett, J. (1995, May 2). The environmental impact of petroleum on the environment. Retrieved from

[4] Spooner, A. M. (n.d.). Environmental impact of petroleum and natural gas. Retrieved from

[5] The hidden, but vast, world of petroleum products. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Niger Delta [Online image]. (2007). Retrieved February 1, 2017 from

Price of oil [Online image]. (2011). Retrieved February 1, 2017 from

The cost of oil [Online image]. (2011). Retrieved February 1, 2017 from

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