These words came to my mind, when Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company (SNEPCO) confirmed an oil "leak", aka known as desastrous oil spill, of at least 1.7 million gallons of oil (that is the volume of almost three olympic sized 2 meter deep swimming poosls) at the Bonga deepwater oil and gas drilling fields, 120 km offshore Nigeria in the Gulf of Guinea.  
Map showing location of Bonga Field off Nigeria.
Published here with Courtesy of Marcel De Jong. Shell Deepwater Services Regional Study Team..

On December 21 Envisat ASAR satellite radar images showed large slick from major oil spill of Niger Delta (outlined in yellow).
Image courtesy of Europeam Space Agency  

Skytruth reports that the oil occurred during the transfer of oil to a tanker.

Oil is produced using an FPSO, a modified oil tanker anchored in place. Oil collected from wells on the seafloor flows up through riser pipes connected to the FPSO. Shuttle tankers take crude oil out of the FPSO's storage tanks and carry it to coastal refineries.
FPSO operation at Bonga Field off Nigeria. bonga4
Image courtesy of Offshore Technology

In March 2011, US federal regulators approved the first-time-ever use of FPSOs to develop an offshore field in the US Gulf of Mexico. Petrobras got the nod for their Cascade-Chinook development in water 8,200' deep, 160 miles off the Louisiana coast. Their FPSO, a converted tanker called the BW Pioneer, holds 600,000 barrels of oil (25.2 million gallons). [But Bad News followed soon after].

On Decemter 22 Bonga oil field facilities were shut down and the source of the leak was found, December 23rd Shell applied dispersants and the oil sheen was apparently broken up.

Today, Dec. 28th, the oil arrived on the shores of the Niger Delta, Warri and Bayelsa State.

The Nigerian Compass writes in detail about the Bonga incidence and mentions in addition another unreported oil spill:

Chief Executive Officer of the Environment Rights Action(ERA)/Friends of the Earth Nigeria, Nnimmo Bassey said that there appears to be another Shell unreported oil spill that has been on for about two weeks now at Otumara in Escravos areas of Ugborodo community in Delta State.

He said that ERA officials have confirmed that the oil spill is presently in the waters of Odioma Kingdom and it has also reached River Ramos near Warri, Delta State.

Shell apparently also tried to meddle with the numbers (surprise, suprise):
Said ERA: “While the fishermen in the Qua Iboe area were pondering over their findings on Friday 23 December, 2011, at a meeting hastily organised for community folks in Warri, Delta State, same day, Shell was peddling new figures. This time, its officials disclosed that 50,000 barrels of crude oil had actually spewed from the Bonga Field.

And if two oil spills weren't enough, yep, a third one just popped up at the Agip facilities.
Besides, Bassey said that a ERA field monitor reported that a fresh spill has occurred at Agip facility in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area. The ERA executive said that Agip has already visited the site of the spill, adding that the spill is said to have occurred as a result of equipment failure.

Finally these are the demands ERA formulated:
“We demand that Shell also reveal the names and types of chemical dispersants used in fighting the spill. More importantly, the Nigerian government, in addition to carrying out an independent investigation of Shell’s claims that only 40,000 barrels of crude was spewed, should make the company pay adequately for the damage done”.

Realizing their own powerlessness to have any influence over their own government, ERA asks for help:
“As you can see, we are powerless, we cannot order the government on what to do. But, I think a responsible government should be able to appreciate our plight and assist us. Because of this kind of situation, we are becoming debtors as we hardly even meet up the payment of the fuel we use for our ocean-going boats. We want Shell to clean up the spill and compensate us for loss of livelihood. Our business has been impacted.

“The international community, especially environmental and Rights-related groups, should join in this just cause to defend the environment and livelihood of the people.”

Yes, and thhis is not the first time the people of Nigeria demand Shell to pay up and clean up their "Dreck".  

Do you remember what happened in the Niger Delta town of Bodo in 2008?  Let me remind you.

The best way to see what happened overall in the town of Bodo in 2008 is to watch this video produced by Al Jazeera:

For more and unedited images, here is 18 mintues of raw archival footage of the oil pollution in Bodo. I am sure after viewing those, you might feel like oil is sticking on your skin all over.

Meanwhile this environment destruction, that has destroyed so many livelihoods of Nigerians, caused a lot of frustration and anger. Militant groups formed and turned violent. The Nigerian police went after them with brutality.

NIgeria: Thousands flee violence, hundreds suspected dead

ABUJA, 22 May 2009 (IRIN) - Thousands of civilians have fled their villages in Nigeria’s Delta state after government troops launched an offensive against militant groups in the state on 13 May. ...
Villagers in Delta state’s Gbramatu kingdom reported Oporoza and Okerenkoko villages being attacked with heavy machine-gun fire from low-flying helicopters on 15 May. Eyewitness accounts reported at least 100 bodies, according to Amnesty International’s Nigeria campaigner Lucy Freeman. ...
In response, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), an umbrella group representing a number of militant factions, declared an “all-out war” in a 15 May press statement. The militant groups claim they are fighting for more local control of oil wealth in the impoverished region.

CNN reported on the militants actions, supporting subtly the idea that the environmental destruction was more a result of the militants attacks on the oil facilities (stealing oil by cutting the pipes and "bunking" it) than the actual oil spills.

In 2009 the Nigerian government found its own solution to deal with their vigilantes. They offered them amnesty, money and job training and thus tried to pacefy and reintegrate them. It seemed to have worked well.

NigeriaL: Jeffrey James:"We would kidnap white people to make the government listen to us”

Frustrated by a lack of development and environmental degradation caused by oil extraction in the Niger Delta, Jeffrey James joined a militant group, Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, (MEND) and fought with them for seven years.

In 2009 he accepted the amnesty offered by the Nigerian government and has since undergone training in non-violence. He is now learning to do welding in a government-funded skills training program for ex-militants, and receives an extra stipend from the federal government during training on top of the US$410 a month paid to all those in the amnesty program.

Yet in Nov. 2011, IRIN reports that the Niger Delta is still unstable despite the amnesty offers.

Analysts argue that the amnesty program is flawed and will not lead to long-term peace. In the delta, former fighters are picking up their guns again, and resentment brews among those not included.

Under the amnesty, which ran from August to October 2009, militants who handed in their weapons were pardoned for their crimes, trained in non-violence, and offered vocational training in trades such as welding, in Nigeria or overseas. After attending non-violence training they are paid US$410 per month until they find work. Just over 26,000 young people have taken the amnesty package.

Most of the participants had been directly or indirectly involved in crimes including attacking oil infrastructure, oil bunkering, and kidnapping oil workers.

Amnesty was granted after record levels of violence in the Delta in 2008: in the first nine months of the year, 1,000 people were killed, 300 were taken hostage and the government lost $23.7 billion to attacks, oil theft and sabotage.

The Christian Science Monitor too reported Oct 30th that Nigeria's MEND rebels are ready to restart oil war in Niger Delta.

Meanwhile Shell has accepted responsibility for the spills, but the bickering of who and what the main reasons for the oil contamination is continues, while the long-term health risks are are analyzed.

Waterworld's report "Slippery Justice for Niger Delta's Polluted Communities" summarizes the ongoing events and struggles to get Shell to clean-up its "Dreck" and pay compensation for lost income. The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) released a report in August of this year, and revealed that Ogoniland in Nigeria is so severely contaminated by oil pollution that a clean up could take up to 30 years and cost billions of dollars. Ogoniland communities have criticized the committee for not visiting the area or consulting residents while compiling the report.

Residents of Ogoniland, in Rivers State, have been struggling since 2008 to hold oil companies and the Nigerian government to account for catastrophic pollution....

Royal Dutch Shell has accepted responsibility but local communities are still fighting for compensation and a clean-up of the oil that polluted water sources and destroyed livelihoods from fishing and farming....

Contaminated water is not the only health concern - petroleum hydrocarbons can be absorbed from air and soil as well. UNEP has indicated there will likely be significant long-term impacts, although no comprehensive health study has been done yet. Anecdotal evidence points to respiratory problems, diarrhoea, rashes, a higher number of miscarriages and other health problems among Ogoniland residents....

In Bodo, damage to local industries has not only taken away people's livelihoods but has also led to other problems, say NGOs. Kregten argues that oil bunkering, where pipelines are tapped to extract and steal oil, only started in Bodo after the 2008 oil spills. Oil bunkering adds to oil pollution and endangers those who engage in it. ...

Shell repeatedly blames bunkering for oil spills, but as there is no independent monitoring it is impossible to verify these claims. "There was no bunkering when people had a way to earn money," she said. Patrick Naagbanton, the coordinator of CEHRD, agreed that the loss of income from farming and fishing means "people turn to what they can". ...

Amnesty International from Canada and the US put those militant actions in a more reasonable context in their video, imo. In addition Amnesty International has published a detailed report, which you might want to consult for more information:

"The True Tragedy  - Delays and Failures in Tackling Oil Spills in the Niger Delta".

As mentioned in the Waterworlds report:

Communities in Nigeria have now begun to take their grievances to lawyers overseas. Earlier this year the Bodo community took Shell to court in the UK for the 2008 oil spills....

In October, Ogale village in Rivers State filed a case against Shell in a US federal court, seeking US$1 billion in compensation for negligence. Ogale was described by UNEP as one of the world's most polluted places....

Some communities resort to Western courts due to a lack of faith in the Nigerian system, where lengthy delays make resolution difficult. Shell has also sometimes refused to comply with orders from Nigerian courts to end gas flaring or pay compensation, according to reports....

Amnesty's Kregten said, "Local communities and civil society are frustrated that they can't get justice here. The communities are becoming more vocal and looking for solutions elsewhere."

To help these communities reaching their goals, Amnesty International has launched a petition drive:

Shell: Own Up and Pay Up to Clean UP the NIger Delta (sign me here, sign me here).
It reads among others:
In August 2011, following its landmark assessment of oil contamination in Ogoniland, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) found that Shell has failed to effectively clean up oil pollution for years, and identified $1 billion as the start-up amount needed to establish an independent fund to clean up pollution in Ogoniland. Call on Shell to OWN UP to the reality of pollution in the Niger Delta, and PAY UP for the costs of a CLEAN UP operation -- the full $1 billion recommended by the UNEP report.

And, yes, this petition is just for the OLD oil spills. How much more needed is your support NOW considering the next oil wave just touched Nigeria's shores today.

Please join me and sign the petition here.Thank You.

PS, If you find typos, grammar and other mistakes (I always make them no matter how hard I try not to), please mention them to me and I will edit them later. Now I have to sleep and will check back only tomorrow late morning.

Mon Sep 03, 2012 at 3:32 PM PT: Two documentaries of the German TV chanel "Arte"

Mon Sep 03, 2012 at 3:46 PM PT: Clip from Aljazeera

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