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Gas Wellhead Explosion in Koluama, Nigeria


Koluama is a riverside community located in southern Ijaw Local Government Area of Bayelsa State, which empties into the Atlantic ocean . They are endowed with rich cultural heritage and fishing as their major source of livelihood. The Chevron North Apoi Gas Rig explosion occurred on 16th January, 2012, which lasted for 46 days. About 154 people working on the rig when the incident occurred out of which two, a French man and an Indian lost their lives and their bodies never found till this day, before the others were evacuated.

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Gas Wellhead Explosion in Koluama, Nigeria
State or province:Bayelsa State
Location of conflict:Koluama Community
Accuracy of locationMEDIUM (Regional 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
Gas flaring
Oil and gas refining
Specific commodities:Crude oil
Project Details and Actors
Project details

According to Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), The Chevron Nortn Apoi Field, located offshore Koluoma community has Nine(9) number of wells. Quantity of oil produced: 1,658,278. Barrels Quantity of Gas produce: 2,864,320.00 mscf

Type of populationRural
Affected Population:250000
Start of the conflict:16/01/2012
Company names or state enterprises:Chevron Nigeria Limited from Nigeria
Chevron Polska Energy Resources Sp. z o.o. from United States of America
Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) from Nigeria
Relevant government actors:NNPC , Bayelsa State Government.
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Environmental Rights Action/ Friends of the Earth Nigeria. (ERA/FoEN), Nigerian Media.
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityHIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
Reaction stageMobilization for reparations once impacts have been felt
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Local ejos
Social movements
Local scientists/professionals
Religious groups
Fisher people
Forms of mobilization:Blockades
Community-based participative research (popular epidemiology studies, etc..)
Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Development of alternative proposals
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Media based activism/alternative media
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Occupation of buildings/public spaces
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Fires, Floods (river, coastal, mudflow), Noise pollution, Waste overflow, Oil spills, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality
Potential: Food insecurity (crop damage), Genetic contamination, Global warming, Soil contamination, Soil erosion, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Groundwater pollution or depletion
Health ImpactsVisible: Accidents, Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Occupational disease and accidents, Infectious diseases, Deaths, Other environmental related diseases
Potential: Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Displacement, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Militarization and increased police presence, Violations of human rights, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Potential: Specific impacts on women
Project StatusStopped
Conflict outcome / response:Migration/displacement
Under negotiation
New Environmental Impact Assessment/Study
Proposal and development of alternatives:1)A properly constituted teams from the state and Federal Government to investigate the spread and impact of the Chevron North Apoi gas Well head explosion.
2)EIA should be carried out to ascertain the extend of the damage
3)Chevron should not only immediately stop the raging flames, but clean up the pollution it has cause to the environment.
4)Chevron should adequately compensate the impacted communities.
5)Chevron and the government should send relief materials to all communities impacted by the pollution.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Yes
Briefly explain:The investigation of the Chevron Nortn Apoi Gas inferno has been carried out, and Chevron was found responsible for the blowout, which they attributed to operational failure. The blowout had been stopped, due to constant protests from community folks and criticism from environmental activists.
Sources & Materials
Juridical relevant texts related to the conflict (laws, legislations, EIAs, etc)

NESREA (National Environmental Standards and Regulation Agency) has responsibility for the protection and development of the environment, biodiversity conservation and sustainable development of Nigerias natural resources in general and environmental technology including coordination, and liaison with, relevant stakeholders within and outsider Nigeria on maters of enforcement of environmental standards, regulations, rules,laws policies and guidelines.

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

NESREA ACT, Federal Republic of Nigeria Official Gazette. No.92, Vol 94. Lagos ,31st July, 2007.

Annual Statistical Bulletin: A publication of Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation, 2010.

Jonathan to compensate Koluama community
[click to view]

Chevron gas rig explosion is killing us – Koluama communities
[click to view]

Nigeria produces 2.3 mb/d of crude oil
[click to view]

NESREA webpage
[click to view]

[click to view]

ERAs website

Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation:

(see also attached file)

African Examiner, Jonathan Inspects Gas Explosion Site in Bayelsa
[click to view]

Performance/2010 ASB 1st edition.pdf
[click to view]

Other comments:The daily life of people in Koluama community and its environs in Bayelsa State, reflects the daily existence of most people along the creeks and river in the Niger Delta. Although the gas blow out has been stopped, only after 46 days of continuous blowouts. But not without constant protests from community folks and criticism from environmental activists.
NB. N/A means; Not available.
The project area affected cannot be quantified since it is offshore gas rig explosion. But the chevron inferno was wide spread affecting several neighboring riverside communities, such as Fish Town, Ikebiri kingdom, Opuama amongst others.
Meta information
Contributor:Nnimmo Bassey
Last update18/08/2019
Conflict ID:583
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