Illegal oil refineries in Nigeria
The Niger Delta has some of the biggest oil fields in the world and Nigeria is famously known for his growing crude oil activities. International oil companies are looking to the region as the country has important proven reserves of crude oil. A very profitable business that locals are also exploiting in a very different perspective risking their health or even their lives in order to sell or export illegally refined diesel from stolen oil from the Niger Delta Shells’ production.
Dozens of illegal oil refineries have been created nearby the delta. Their purpose is to refine stolen barrels of crude oil to transform it into diesel. But the methods are very rudimentary and the illegal workers risk their lives every day in unprotected areas by manipulating and heating without any protection the hydrocarbons.
Shell is the operator of the region, and according to the companies’ managing director in Nigeria, Shell suffers of over 2 billion dollars’ worth of stolen oil every year. And the country itself affirms that he is losing over 400.000 barrels a day because of sabotage, theft and lost production, representing 20% of the whole production in the Niger Delta according to The Guardian.
While locals of the surrounding villages are constantly blamed for thefts by Shell, the area is suffering a major oil spilling contamination because of the lack of diligence applied by Shell when maintaining its facilities and pipelines that too often break down. As example, the Trans Nigerian pipeline crosses the village of Bodo. It is a visible pipeline lying on the floor and completely unprotected. Consequently, spilings from equipment failures happen often and are never cleaned up by Shell. Very often, the company defends itself transforming the situation into a sabotage.
The problem is that this important amount of stolen oil cannot only be blamed on the communities. A large scale stealing as such requires financial resources and specific barges able to transport the stolen crude oil to the refining base as well as existing refineries expensive to maintain.
Also illegal refineries in the delta operate only with the permission of the military and the police who demands payment for that.
The Niger Delta has clearly developed a culture of complicity and secrecy where Shell and the interested parts have certainly their part of guilt.
After fifty years living with the oil industry, this terrible situation has led to a massive pollution of the delta and the surroundings areas. From the sky, a black coast is nowadays sadly recognizable.
For more info :