Sunday, January 8, 2012

Oil Spills off the Coast of New Zealand and Nigeria

Oil spills off the coast of New Zealand and Nigeria continue to make the point that oil has far-reaching consequences for the environment and the economy. On December 20, last year Nigeria experienced yet another oil spill, the worst in over a decade. Prior to that The Greek cargo ship Rena that ran aground off the coast of New Zealand on October 5, and then broke in two early in January 2012. Hundreds of tonnes of oil have spilled from the ship killing hundreds of birds. The Rena is already New Zealand's worst maritime disaster, and authorities say the situation will worsen with the release of even more oil.

Ross Henderson, spokesman for Maritime New Zealand, told the BBC, "We don't yet know what amount of oil may have been released, but we are gearing up for an expected release of oil and container debris on shore, and have response teams ready to go once that starts happening."

A large amount of debris has been sighted downwind of the vessel. Maritime New Zealand expected debris and oil to start washing up on beaches.

The December 20 leak that occured during a tanker loading operation is Nigeria's worst offshore oil spill in more than a decade. The oil leakage came from a facility at the Bonga oil field belonging to Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company (SNEPCo). The loss of over 40,000 barrels of crude oil was traced to an export line from the field’s floating production, storage and offloading vessel.

In 1998 a similar leakage at ExxonMobil facility resulted in a horrendous spill estimated at over 45,000 bpd. In January 2012, Shell shut down its Nembe Creek Trunkline (NCTL) following another oil leak that has affected the production of 70,000 bpd.

The Bonga oil spill and other similar spills have ravaged the Niger Delta and destroyed vegetation and marine life. The Environmental Policy Implementation Agency, an arm of the United Nations, blamed the oil spills in the Niger Delta on the negligence of oil firms.

Regardless of the cause, oil spills are highly destructive to the environment and have attendant consequences on the economy.

© 2012, Richard Matthews. All rights reserved.

No comments: