Chevron North Apoi explosion impacts at Ikebiri Community, Nigeria

Chevron North Apoi explosion has affected many communities in Bayelsa state. Ikebiry community members suffer from polluted waters, dying fisheries and poor health care to cope with a dying environment

ERA/FoEN field monitors following an outcry by the people of Ikebiri via the State owned radio in Bayelsa State on how the Chevron North Apoi explosion has also affected them (see case Gas Wellhead Explosion in Koluama, Nigeria) , visited Ikebiri 1 and 2 which is administratively situated in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of Bayelsa State and shares boundary with Koluama Kingdom. The Ikebiri Creek is a major tributary of the River Nun which branches off from the Ossiama Creek and empties into the Atlantic Ocean at Koluama axis. The Ikebiri environment which is mainly fresh water and tropical rain forest also has brackish water as a result of the close proximity [fish camps] to the Atlantic Ocean and, hence the environment also has a good stretch of mangrove forest. This visit was carried out on January 31, 2012. The first point of call was the Ikebiri Creek, the place where the river empties into the Atlantic Ocean and then to Otorgbene to hear from the people.  Read the testimonies and observations below. At Ikebiri One Shortly after arriving the community, the team was informed that due to the impact of the Chevron explosion on the health of the people, some indigenes who used to be at the fishing camps most often had returned home to seek medical attention from the health facility there. Hence it became necessary to get to the medical centre in the community. One of those who spoke to ERA/FoEN at the health centre, was the Doctor Oladipo Folorunso in charge of the facility, a Youth Corps member. In response to questions, the doctor said:  You are most welcome to the National Health Insurance Scheme [NHIS] facility of the Federal government. I am barely a month here but since I came, there has been an increase in the number of patients only very recently. This could be ascertained when you look at past records compared with the current situation. Most of the ailments are associated with gastro and skin concerns. Most of the patients come from settlements outside the immediate community, especially the fish camps. This trend has been on since the past two or three weeks. Children and women are more among those I am talking about. The main concern I have is the lack of adequate drugs to contain the situation. Besides that, we also do not have portable water and electricity here to effectively handle the health challenge we are faced with. Somehow, we are trying our best in the circumstance, sometimes fetching water from the river for our use, after applying alum to it. His Highness, Bunah Nathan Walter [Deputy Paramount ruler, Ikebiri Kingdom] This incident happened on January 16, 2012 and since then, my people have been complaining. Till this moment, no group, not even government agencies have come to the aid of the people of the community. One of the major problems we are facing is that there is no health facility that can really cater for the health needs of the people that are affected. For that very reason, most of the people who reside in all the fishing camps no longer stay there because of there are no health facilities to take care of there. Majority of them are in Ikebiri where we have the only health facility which is not even equipped; no drugs, nothing. The only source of water there is the river as we no longer drink from contaminated wells too. The Ikebiri River is also contaminated; hence you see fish dying and fishing activities adversely impacted. The Ikebiri River shares the same current [water] with Koluama because the river empties into the Atlantic Ocean. And that is why some of the oil spills from Ikebiri environment [from Agip facilities] also impact the Koluama environment. From our last fishing settlement called Otorgbene, it is just about five minutes drive by speedboat to the Atlantic Ocean. So, we are calling on government and Chevron, the international community, environmental and human rights groups to come to our aid. Anybody that is in position to assist us should please come to our aid.  Mrs. Suoyo Matthew  [at Ikebiri 2]: It is very unfortunate that we are experiencing all these environmental devastation because of crude oil exploration. We have been suffering from series of oil spills from Agip’s facility. Now, just see what the recent incident from Chevron facility has brought us. Look at my body. I have blister all over my skin. I feel very sad and uncomfortable these days. Just because of crude oil and gas exploitation around us we are facing a kind of ecological war; our livelihood and health are jeopardized every now and then. I really lack words to express myself. Government should help us address this issue and save us from poverty and life threatening activities of oil companies operating in our environment.  Mrs. Rachel Preyekekon: As you can see, we have been impacted by the Chevron explosion in terms of health and our fishing activities. Although I settled here in this fishing camp, I am from Ikebiri. Some of our fellow residents have gone to Ikebiri One for medical attention. If you move round this environment you will find some dead fish; a situation which tells you how dangerous the water has become even for us; not just the fish. We reluctantly go out these days for fishing because we are mindful of the environmental impacts of whatever must have come from the explosion site of Chevron. We are only surviving at the mercy of God.  We need help!  Confirming the effect of the incident on Ikebiri Kingdom, two other Chiefs spoke to ERA. His Highness Samuel F.D.Fio-Botei [Paramount ruler of Ikebiri 2]: "I wish to confirm what you must have heard from people of the kingdom. We are passing through very trying times. We have often suffered from pollution occasioned by oil company-related activities around our immediate environment and, sometimes, those from neighboring communities. I recall that when the Funiwa 5 oil spill occurred from Texaco [now Chevron] facility in 1980, we suffered the impact, just as spills from here spread to neighboring communities like Koluama. My people engage in fishing a lot, even though we are very good farmers too. I have received several complaints from our community fishing folks from our fishing camps; about how the gas explosion in the Ocean has impacted their fishing activities and health. This is serious and, better imagined than experiencing. This is more so considering the fact that there are no jobs for our young graduates in the city. Some parents have to assist their children who are in the city with proceeds from fishing and farming. So, anything that affects the livelihood of the people here also affects those dependants. As you have come, the very first group to visit us since this incident happened, I urge you to go round all our fishing settlements in Ikebiri kingdom and make your independent observation known to the public. Already we have made a radio announcement and, even though the authorities and Chevron must have heard us, your report should also go out to the public domain please. Otherwise, your visit may not mean much to us. We need action from the government and Chevron." Chief Tariye Amgbe [Amananaowei of Otorgbene, Opuadino, Okumo-Torupa {Ikebiri 3}: "You must have heard from other community leaders and seen things for yourselves. In this light and the fact that time may be against you, I shall be very brief. This area under my jurisdiction is mainly the fishing areas of Ikebiri kingdom. Considering the fact that what has brought you here is related to the Chevron North Apoi explosion on January 16, I think my immediate constituency, the fishing folks are the primary victims. Some of the victims who took ill have gone to Yenagoa for treatment while others are at Ikebiri 1. The two main areas of impact are: the people’s health and fishing activities; their means of livelihood. Otorgbene is the closest of all our settlement to the Atlantic Ocean and, going round this environment you will discover several dead fish. This means a lot, yes if the fish would be dying like this due to pollution. I will appeal that you let the government, especially at state and federal levels know about our predicament. OBSERVATION/CONCLUSION by ERA: One major observation is that the people of Ikebiri kingdom expressed genuine concern over their health and livelihood. This, they did by way of placards and verbal response to questions posed to them on the spur of the moment. It was unfortunate to observe that the health facility at Ikebiri 1 was facing grave challenges in terms of drinking water and electricity as a result of increase in the number of patients seeking medical attention. The lack of these necessities in a health centre reduces its significance. Within the environment of Otorgbene dead fish that appeared washed ashore to the banks of the creek as the waters ebb into the Atlantic, leaving the banks and surrounding lands relatively dry.
Basic Data
NameChevron North Apoi explosion impacts at Ikebiri Community, Nigeria
SiteNorth Apoi
Accuracy of LocationLOW country/state level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Fossil Fuels and Climate Justice/Energy
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Oil and gas refining
Oil and gas exploration and extraction
Specific CommoditiesNatural Gas
Crude oil
Project Details and Actors
Type of PopulationRural
Start Date2012
Company Names or State EnterprisesChevron Corporation from United States of America
Agip Group from Italy
Chevron Nigeria Limited from Nigeria
Nigeria Agip Oil Company (NAOC) from Nigeria
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersEnvironmental Rights Action - ERA
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)MEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
When did the mobilization beginMobilization for reparations once impacts have been felt
Groups MobilizingFarmers
Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Local ejos
Forms of MobilizationCreation of alternative reports/knowledge
Street protest/marches
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Fires, Food insecurity (crop damage), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Oil spills, Global warming, Soil contamination, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion
Health ImpactsVisible: Accidents, Malnutrition, Infectious diseases
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Displacement, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Project StatusIn operation
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseImpunity of the culprit companies
Development of AlternativesERA DEMANDS

1 A properly constituted team from the state and federal government to investigate the spread and impact of the Chevron North Apoi gas wellhead explosion.

2 The authorities guarantee Chevron does not get away with this environmental damage to our peoples’ health, livelihood and environment.

3 All impacted communities be adequately compensated. This is besides adequate clean up of the environment.

4 The international community, environmental and human rights groups come to the aid of the impacted communities by way of advocacy and rendering free technical and legal services where necessary.

5 Tests should be carried out on water samples from the ocean to ascertain the pollutant that has caused the deaths of aquatic life.
Do you consider this as a success?Yes
Why? Explain briefly.Chevron is yet to compensate the people and clean up the spills
Sources and Materials

ERA Field Report
[click to view]

The True Cost of Chevron
[click to view]

Chevron’s Worst Year Ever, Episode 5: Nigeria
By Rebecca Tarbotton on May 28, 2012
[click to view]

Other Documents

Protest action in Ikebiri community, 2012 Source: ERA
[click to view]

Meta Information
ContributorAfoke Ohwojeheri
Last update10/05/2016