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Spill in Agip's Brass River Terminal affecting fishing communities, Nigeria

In November 2013, AGIP/NAOC Brass River terminal spilled more than 550,000 liters of crude oil, disrupting marine life and putting under threat the surrounding fishing communities' livelihoods.


The spills in Niger Delta are more than common, several happen on a daily basis, causing aggravated damages to the environment, the biodiversity and human health [1, 2]. A report by Amnesty International denounced that the two big multinationals Shell and ENI are in major part responsible for so many of these spills and for this worrying situation. The International NGO calls the two multinationals to take on more actions to avoid such human and environmental disasters. What happened in November 2013, at Brass River Terminal is one of those many and uncountable spills. While the Odioama community and their environment were still recovering from the impacts of the Bonga spill from 2011 (see the case on the EJAtlas Shell Bonga Oil Spill, Nigeria[3]); Odioama fisher folks reached ERA on Friday 29th November 2013with the information that another major spill from the Nigerian Agip Oil Company/Eni had just happened and impacted their surroundings. This major spill occurred at the Brass River Terminal, discharging crude into the Atlantic Ocean and affecting the Odioama community and environs. Odioama is a Nembe-speaking Ijaw community with several satellite settlements along the fringes of the Atlantic Ocean and the St. Nicholas River which empties into the Atlantic. The locals’ occupation makes a living out of fishing because of their strategic location. Fisher folks from outside the community have also settled in the environment and do also derive their means of livelihood from fishing. ERA mobilized to visit the Odioama community on Sunday, 1st December 2013 with a view to making independent observation and speaking directly with victims. The leadership of the community led by the Chairman of Odioama Kingdom Council of Chiefs conducted field monitors around some of the sites and fishing camps for the much-needed physical observation of the environment. Signs of crude oil were observed and captured on video and still photos. Vegetation and other materials along the sand banks were seen soiled with crude oil which was very thick in some areas. To compound the problems from the spill, fishermen have been advised to stop fishing, leaving them without hope for survival. The chairman of Beyelsa chapter of Artisan Fishermen Association of Nigeria considered that a total of 3.000 fishermen had to stop their activities after the oil spill [4]. Right after the disaster, it was reported that at least the fishermen from Ewoama, Mbikiri, Okpoama-abadianga, Laijakiri, Bubelebarakiri, Akabeleu, Odioma and Shellkiri had to halt their activities [5]. The chairman also denounced that “dead fishes of all sizes littered the coastline here in November and December 2013” and that the fish that survived escaped to deeper waters, out of reach for the fishermen [5]. Besides Odioama, also other coastal communities in Bayelsa state were affected by this spill, near the terminal: Mbikiri in Twon-Brass, Okpoama and Dieama communities. The communities regret the company did not show enough interest for their critical situation [6].

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Spill in Agip's Brass River Terminal affecting fishing communities, Nigeria
State or province:Brass Local Government Area, Bayelsa State
Location of conflict:Brass Island, the Odioama, Twon Brass, Okpoama, Dieama communities
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Fossil Fuels and Climate Justice/Energy
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Oil and gas exploration and extraction
Oil and gas refining
Pollution related to transport (spills, dust, emissions)
Specific commodities:Crude oil
Project Details and Actors
Project details

Agip’s Brass River terminal is located on the Brass Island (in Bayelsa State), at the estuary of the Brass river, one of the branches of the Nun river, itself one branch of the Niger river. AGIP is a subsidiary of the Italian multinational group ENI, that formed a partnership with the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to establish the Nigeria Agip Oil Company (NAOC). By 2009, Agip‘s Brass River Terminal produced around 33,000 barrels of oil per day and 2 million cubic meters of gas [7]. The oil tanker terminal at Brass has a storage capacity of approximately 3,5 million barrels [8]. The NOSDRA deployed its vessel to combat the spill. Also did AGIP/NAOC deployed its Oil Spill Eater II over 21,000 hectares, converting oil into a safe end point of CO2 and water [9, 10]. After the disaster, reports confirmed that the spill “was caused by operational failure during the loading of crude oil at the terminal in the sea” [5]. AGIP/NAOC official report after the clean-up declared that there was around 150,000 gallons or 550,000 liters of oil that polluted the water, mangroves and the river shoreline [10].

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Level of Investment for the conflictive projectUnknown
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:5,000 to 20,000
Start of the conflict:01/12/2013
Company names or state enterprises:Agip Group from Italy
Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) from Nigeria
Nigeria Agip Oil Company (NAOC) from Nigeria
Relevant government actors:National Oil Spills Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA), Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Environmental Rights, Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria, Oilwatch Nigeria, NACGOND, Social Action, Nigeria, Artisan Fishermen Association of Nigeria
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityLOW (some local organising)
Reaction stageMobilization for reparations once impacts have been felt
Groups mobilizing:Fisher people
Local ejos
Social movements
Religious groups
Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Trade unions
Recreational users
Landless peasants
Forms of mobilization:Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Media based activism/alternative media
Official complaint letters and petitions
Appeals/recourse to economic valuation of the environment
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Food insecurity (crop damage), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Oil spills, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality
Potential: Air pollution, Floods (river, coastal, mudflow)
Health ImpactsPotential: Occupational disease and accidents, Malnutrition, Deaths
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Displacement, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Militarization and increased police presence, Specific impacts on women, Violations of human rights, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place, Increase in violence and crime
Potential: Increase in violence and crime
Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Migration/displacement
Negotiated alternative solution
Under negotiation
Proposal and development of alternatives:1 Agip ensure a proper cleanup of the spill environment
2 A JIV be carried out with community folks involved and cause of spill and volume made public
3 Agip not only send relief materials to impacted communities and satellite fishing settlements, but also pay adequate compensation for general and specific damages
4 The media, human rights and environmental groups [local and international] act in solidarity with the Odioama people and demand the rights of the impacted people be upheld
5 The relevant agencies of government ensure best practices are adhered to in handling the spill.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:The Nigerian Agip Oil Company and other regulators are still investigating the cause of the spill. Although skeletal clean-ups have commenced, compensation to the fishermen and other neighboring affected communities have not been reached. So community people have been abandoned with no hope for survival, since their fishing nets and ponds have been destroyed by the spill.
Sources & Materials
Juridical relevant texts related to the conflict (laws, legislations, EIAs, etc)

National Oil Spills Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) norms

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

[2] Best Ordinioha, Seiyefa Brisibe. 2013. The human health implications of crude oil spills in the Niger delta, Nigeria: An interpretation of published studies
[click to view]

[10] Nigeria AGIP BRASS TERMINAL oil spill response 11 27 2013 Report
[click to view]

Negligence in the Niger Delta, Decoding Shell and ENI's poor record on oil spills, Amnesty International
[click to view]

Nigeria AGIP BRASS TERMINAL oil spill response 11 27 2013 Report
[click to view]

[1] ENI Oil Spill Pollutes Niger Delta, May 2013
[click to view]

[4] Brass Terminal Oil Spill: Agip commences clean-up amidst complaints of neglect by victims, December 2013
[click to view]

[5] Oil spill pitches Bayelsa communities against Agip, December 2013
[click to view]

[6] Fishermen Along Bayelsa Coastline Lament Impact Of Oil Spill, January 2014
[click to view]

[7] Nigeria: Eni Declares Force Majeure On Brass River Exports, June 2009
[click to view]

[8] Eni’s activities in Nigeria, Overview
[click to view]

[9] Agip Brass River Export Terminal
[click to view]

Bonga field: Back to business as usual
[click to view]

Tension over N-Delta oil spill, January 2012
[click to view]

Brass River
[click to view]

[click to view]

Eni in Niger Delta. Our commitment to safe, secure and sustainable operations in a complex scenario
[click to view]

What does Eni do in nigeria?,
[click to view]

Oil spill from Agip’s Brass Terminal pollutes Atlantic Ocean, November 2013
[click to view]

Oil spill from Agip’s Brass Terminal pollutes Atlantic Ocean, November 30, 2013
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Eni Investigating Oil Spill at Brass Terminal Off Nigerian Coast, December 2013
[click to view]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

Fish at Odioma.jpg
[click to view]

Fisher folks talk About Agip's Brass Terminal Spill of 27th November, 2013
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Afoke Ohwojeheri, Maria Obaseki (updated by Camila Rolando)
Last update04/04/2019
Conflict ID:589
Related conflicts
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