Nigerian Oil Spill Monitor

Nigerian Oil Spill Monitor
Visualizing oil spill data from

About oil spills in Nigeria

NOSDRA is the Nigerian Federal Government agency responsible for monitoring and responding to oil spills in Nigeria.

NOSDRA Monitor oil spills and their cleanup in Nigeria through it's Zonal Offices

NOSDRA acts between oil companies and communities at the local and state level.

NOSDRA works to ensure industry compliance with the Nigerian legal and regulatory framework relating to the oil industry and the environment.

NOSDRA relies on voluntary engagement and support of oil companies to provide data, logistics, quantity estimates, soil/water samples and to carry out cleanup operations.

What is the process of reporting and cleaning up oil spills in Nigeria?

Key aspects of the process of reporting and cleaning up oil spills in Nigeria are briefly explained here:

  • All oil spills must (by law) be closed-off/stopped by the oil company within 24 hours of being notified of an oil spill in their jurisdiction.
  • A Joint Investigative Visit (JIV) must (by law) be carried out as soon as possible after a spill has been identified and containment measures taken. The Joint Investigative Visit is where the oil company representatives, community representatives, and appropriate government agencies visit the oil spill site to agree on the cause, impact, scale of spill etc. The resulting JIV document is signed by all parties present and forms the basis of any legal proceedings or compensation claims.
  • Within 2 weeks of a spill being identified oil companies must (by law) submit information (FORM B - enshrined in Nigerian law) to the government regulator which outlines areas of impact, area covered by spill, quantities spilled, quantities recovered, cause of spill, containment and cleanup measures etc.
  • When further cleanup efforts by the oil companies or their contractors is deemed complete, the oil company should contact the government regulator with a report on their cleanup operations (FORM C - enshrined in Nigerian law).
  • The oil company whose facilities have been compromised are always responsible for oil spill clean-up, regardless of the cause of an oil spill.

Challenges in reporting and cleaning up oil spills in Nigeria

There are many issues relating to reporting and cleaning up oil spills in Nigeria. These include::

  • Corruption: bunkering and oil theft are potentially lucrative businesses, and there are frequent allegations of high-level security, oil company and government corruption.
  • Security: accessing a spill site may be dangerous due to the presence of armed actors involved in bunkering or illegal refining.
  • Compliance: it may not be in the interest of a party responsible for an oil spill to report it, as they will be required to clean it up and provide compensation.
  • Community obstacles: for a variety of reasons, local communities in affect areas may not allow spill clean-up teams or regulators to access spill sites. This could be because of historical mistrust of companies and the authorities, or to hide community-level refining activities.

Causes of oil spills

Oil spills can be caused by breaks in ageing or poorly maintained infrastructure, accidents, vandalism and other incidents.

In the past 10 years, a number of spills have also been caused by oil theft, also known as bunkering. This is where oil is stolen from pipelines and then shipped to local or international markets. There has also been an increase in artisanal refining, when camps in the mangrove refine crude for local or other needs. These are unregulated and so can cause serious pollution.

Penalties for oil spills in Nigeria

There are currently no legally binding regulatory penalties or fines for oil spills in Nigeria.

Currently oil companies are required to fund the clean-up of each spill and usually pay compensation to local communities affected, if the spill was the company's fault.

A recent court case related to repeated oil spills in the Bodo area of Ogoniland argues that a failure by companies to adequately protect pipelines from vandalism of theft, or continuing to operate when vandalism or theft is rife, consitutes culpability on behalf of the pipeline operator.