ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT ASSESSMENT OF OIL AND GAS INDUSTRY IN NIGER DELTA, NIGERIA: A CRITICAL ENVIRONMENTAL AND LEGAL FRAMEWORK ASSESSMENT
Iheriohanma, Valerian Ibeawuchi
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Crude oil has been the mainstay of Nigeria’s economy and the major GDP since its commercial production in 1958 at Oloibiri. The unsustainable processes, human activities, obsolete equipment and laws involved in harnessing this natural resource has wrecked great havoc to the Niger Delta environment which is very sensitive and ecologically endowed. The aim of this research was to assess, examine and evaluate the Environmental Impact Assessment system, environmental regulatory framework enacted by the Department of Petroleum Resources for the Petroleum Industry in Niger Delta Region of Nigeria and the ensued environmental degradation in order to identify the significant environmental and social impacts of the industry, point out the gaps in the EIA process and regulations in solving the problems of oil spill and gas flaring and make appropriate recommendations to ensure environmental protection is achieved. In-depth expository analyses using secondary data, data from the NNPC, extracts from the Earth Summit in 1992 and African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Right (ACHPR), World Bank Reports, UNDP, UNEP, Amnesty International, international books, newspapers, journals and the internet were performed. Assessment of oil spill impact on the Niger Delta environment using Egbematoro 1 in Southern Ijaw as a case study was conducted. This research concluded that despite the promulgated environmental regulations and EIA regime, the unsustainable manner of oil and gas operations in the Niger Delta keeps devastating the environment and putting the lives of the local people at risk. The laws are obsolete with no sanctions and enforcement ingredients in addition to corruption, multiplicity of functions, inter-jurisdictional rivalry and clash of interest by the regulators leading to a serious inter-generational and environmental injustice. Analysis of the soil and water in Egbematoro 1 community confirmed fresh contamination and concentrations of 7529.16 ppm and 6.3951x104 ppm of TPH in the soil and water samples respectively.