The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) conducted a two-year study into the impact of oil contamination in Ogoniland, an area in the Niger Delta from which SPDC withdrew in 1993 following years of attacks on staff and facilities. In August 2011, the UNEP report made wide-ranging recommendations for the federal and state governments, the oil industry and communities to address the problem of oil pollution. Following publication, SPDC immediately supported the Rivers State government in supplying fresh drinking water to affected communities, one of UNEP’s urgent recommendations. It also contributed to the work of a Presidential Commission set up to consider longer-term action.
The report questioned SPDC’s clean-up and remediation technique and performance, and recommended improvements. As a result, SPDC conducted a review of its practices. It is confident that remediating oil spill sites using a process that allows natural microbes to break down the hydrocarbons remains a proven and internationally recognised method. It is widely used in many countries.
However, the review showed that in some cases in Ogoniland, SPDC did not go physically deep enough when assessing spills, making remediation less effective. Based on this finding, SPDC is revisiting a number of other sites in the Delta to confirm that remediation has been carried out properly, and will remediate further if needed.
SPDC is to the findings of the UNEP report. But there are multiple parties involved in Ogoniland, and achieving solutions will require co-ordinated action by federal and state governments, industry, non-governmental organisations and local communities.