Multinational Oil Companies on the Niger Delta, Nigeria

Coutless number of oil spills in the Niger Delta and immunity of the responsible oil companies. Still, late 2015, Shell was held accountable by Dutch justice.


Extraction activities by multinational companies including Shell, Mobil, Chevron, Elf and Agip have caused serious environmental and social damage in the Niger Delta, an oil rich South-Eastern region of Nigeria. Crude oil extraction has caused the pollution of the river basin and surrounding land, the destruction of subsistence crops, and the expropriation of local residents territory. The opposition of local communities has been brutally repressed by police forces, resulting in bloodshed and hundreds of deaths. Local communities, supported by the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), have continued their opposition to those exploitative policies. In particular, they demand a full clean-up of local waterways and territories, a more equitable distribution of oil revenues and broader compensation for ecological damage. Outdated equipment and unadapted supervision are at the origin of recurrent oil spills over the Delta. In 2008, four Nigerian citizens together with Friends of the Earth Netherlands sued Shell to the Hague Court. On December 18th 2015, the Dutch appeal Court stated the company can be hold liable in the Netherlands for spills occurred in Nigeria.

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Basic Data
NameMultinational Oil Companies on the Niger Delta, Nigeria
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
Land acquisition conflicts
Pollution related to transport (spills, dust, emissions)
Gas flaring
Specific CommoditiesLand
Crude oil
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsShell exports 380,000 barrels of oil a day in the 1990s.

ExxonMobil produced about 100,000 barrels a day in 2010.

In 2011, Chevron holds a 40% interest in 13 Nigerian concessions with in 2010, a daily production of 524,000 barrels of oil, 206 million cubic feet of natural gas .
Type of PopulationRural
Start Date1992
Company Names or State EnterprisesRoyal Dutch Shell (Shell) from Netherlands
from United States of America
ELF from France
Agip Group from Italy
Chevron Corporation (TEPNL) from Nigeria
Nigeria Agip Oil Company (NAOC) from Nigeria
Elf Petroleum Nigeria Limited (EPNL) from Nigeria
Chevron Nigeria Limited from Nigeria
Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) from Nigeria
Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria (SPDC) from Nigeria
Relevant government actorsGovernment of Nigeria, Commission for Energy & Natural Resources, Department of Petroleum Resources, Nigeria
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersERA (Environmental Rights Action - Friends of the Earth Nigeria), Kebetkache Women’s Resource and Development Centre, HOMEF (Nigeria), Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), Friends of the Earth Netherlands, MOSOP, Osservatorio Eni - Italia, Uzere People, Comunit Biseni, Ogoni People, Ijaw People, JRC, Social Action Nigeria, Amnesty International, Justice in Nigeria Now (USA)
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)HIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
When did the mobilization beginIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups MobilizingIndigenous groups or traditional communities
Industrial workers
Informal workers
International ejos
Local ejos
Social movements
Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
Forms of MobilizationBlockades
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Property damage/arson
Appeals/recourse to economic valuation of the environment
Court cases against Shell both in Nigeria and in The Netherland (starting in 2009)
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Food insecurity (crop damage), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Soil contamination, Waste overflow, Oil spills, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Global warming, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Fires, Soil erosion
Potential: Genetic contamination, Noise pollution
Health ImpactsVisible: Accidents, Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Malnutrition, Violence related health impacts (homicides, rape, etc..) , Occupational disease and accidents, Deaths, Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide, Health problems related to alcoholism, prostitution, Infectious diseases
Otherdecrease in fertility rates
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Displacement, Increase in violence and crime, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Loss of livelihood, Militarization and increased police presence, Social problems (alcoholism, prostitution, etc..), Violations of human rights, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Specific impacts on women
Project StatusIn operation
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCorruption
Criminalization of activists
Court decision (victory for environmental justice)
Violent targeting of activists
Development of AlternativesThey demand a full clean-up of local waterways and territories, a more equitable distribution of oil revenues and broader compensation for ecological damage.
Do you consider this as a success?No
Why? Explain briefly.The multinational companies continue extracting crude of the Nigel Delta, increasing the soil and water pollution, and other impacts.
Sources and Materials

The Associated Gas Reinjection Act of 1979 outlawed gas flaring (effect from January 1984)


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The Politics of Bones: Dr. Owens Wiwa and the Struggle for Nigerias Oil. Hunt, J.Timothy. Ed. McClelland and Stewart, 2005

High Stakes And Stakeholders: Oil Conflict And Security in Nigeria. Omeje, Kenneth. Ed. Ashgate, 2006

Chop Fine- The Human Rights of Local Government Corruption and Mismanagement in Rivers State, Nigeria. Human Rights Watch, 2007
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Sahel nigerino: quando sopravvivere difficile. Pressione demografica e risorse naturali. Carozzi, Carlo; Tiepolo, Maurizi. Ed. FrancoAngeli, 2006
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Gas flaring in Nigeria - a human rights, environmental and economic monstrosity. Friends of the earth, 2005
[click to view]

Environmental Assessment of Ogoniland report, UNEP, 2011
[click to view]

Nigeria: Clean it up: Shell's false claims about oil spill response in the Niger Delta, Amnesty International, 3/11/2015
[click to view]

Petrolio, forze armate e democrazia. Il caso Nigeria. Emiliani, Marcella. Ed. Carocci. 2004
[click to view]

Shell Petroleum Development Company, the State, and underdevelopment of the Nigerias NIger Delta: Study in Environmental Degradation. Omoweh, Daniel A. Ed. Africa World Press, 2001
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Illusions of Power: Nigeria in Transition. Ihonvbere, Julius O.; Shaw, Timothy. Ed. Africa World Press. 1998
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The True Cost of Chevron, An Alternative Annual Report, May 2011, Justice for Nigeria Now
[click to view]

Gas Flare Tracker - Mapping Nigeria's Gas Flares
[click to view]

Report on Gas Flaring, Petroleum Revenue Special Task Force, 2012
[click to view]


Nigeria: La guerra del petrolio - Collettivo Senza Frontiere di Parma
[click to view]

Nigeria, reports by Asud
[click to view]

Outcome appeal against Shell: victory for the environment and the Nigerian people – Friends of the Earth Netherlands, 18/12/2015
[click to view]

Dutch appeals court says Shell may be held liable for oil spills in Nigeria, The Guardian, 18/12/2015
[click to view]

Shell ignored internal warnings over Nigeria oil spills, documents suggest, J. Vidal, The Guardian, 13/11/2014
[click to view]

Nigeria oil firms 'deflect blame for spills', says Amnesty, BBC News, 7/11/2014
[click to view]

The True Cost of Chevron: Chevron in Nigeria, Justice in Nigeria Now, May 2011
[click to view]

HOMEF Resources on Fossil Fuels, Nigeria
[click to view]

Nigeria’s oil bill: back to the drawing board, A. Klasa, 09/07/2015
[click to view]

Media Links

Nigeria: Oil pollution in the Niger Delta, Global 3000
[click to view]

Presentation of the documentary : Nowhere to Run – Nigeria’s Climate and Environmental Crisis, 2015
[click to view]

Other Documents

Spills in the Niger Delta on March 22, 2013 Getty Images/AFP/PIUS UTOMI EKPEI
[click to view]

Meta Information
ContributorLucie Greyl
Last update15/03/2018