The Oil Spill the World Forgot

Shell OilAs the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico continues to dominate headlines around the world, public outrage is being focused more intensely upon BP and its gaffe-prone CEO Tony Hayward. But amidst this crisis, the public should not forget the atrocities committed by other massive oil companies. For example, Royal Dutch Shell's drilling operations have been spilling oil into the Niger Delta in Nigeria since 1958. Because Nigeria is an impoverished nation and oil revenues fund a majority of government operations, Shell and other companies have been able to drill and pollute without serious oversight for all these years. It is estimated that 13 million barrels of oil have spilled into the delta, making life even more difficult for the region's destitute residents. Shell blames the constant spills on attacks from "rebels," who are in fact minority ethnic groups who feel they have been exploited and displaced by foreign oil companies. But Shell would never consider pulling out of the region or finding ways to avoid ethnic strife. Instead, Shell has proceeded with business as usual, and spilled a record 14,000 tons of crude oil into the delta last year.

Different Continent, Different Story

While Shell has allowed oil spills to become the norm in Nigeria, it tries to appear as a compassionate and environmentally-conscious company to the American public. To assist with the Gulf cleanup efforts, Shell has lent six vessels to BP. This morning, Shell president Marvin Odum told a Congressional panel that it's offshore drilling operations were safe and the BP oil spill is an aberration. In addition, Mr. Odum argued that the six-month moratorium on deep water drilling will create too many hardships for the American people. Mr. Odum and the rest of Shell know that they must seem concerned for the well-being of the American public and the environment if they want to receive permission to drill in American waters. But in Nigeria, where the people are poor and powerless and the government is corrupt, Shell does not have to make such an effort. Anyone who looks at the devastation of the Niger Delta can see that Shell is concerned with its bottom line above all else.  


BP is a world known company and therfore has a major reputation to protect. As a customer of BP I feel like I am being undermined. Do they realy think the public are that stupid to beleiver their cover ups?

With any major industry comes the need for responsibility. Thanks for the article, as this points out the disasters that oil spills outside of our backyard can bring and a lack of public awareness.

It is amazing how the product that revolutionized the world, oil, is destroying our world. BP & Shell deserve whatever they've got coming to them because when you trace everything back most of the time the problem is negligence on the owners part and not just some freak accident!

The Niger Delta is by no means a ‘poor’ economy. Staggering profits are pumped out of the creeks by Shell, Chevron and other companies on a daily basis. The IMF estimates that Nigeria earned US$75 billion in oil revenue between 2004-7. Yet the Delta region is impoverished by decades of record-breaking graft at all levels of the Nigerian political elite, an ongoing theft that is assisted by multinational oil companies and Western banks.

It is sad that any oil spill -- in any part of the world -- should be let go to destroy the environment. A television report covered an organization that offers rewards for anyone with potential solutions ( Apparently hundreds of potential solutions have been submitted. While I'm sure that the majority were not feasible or realistic solutions, I understand that many had been submitted by PhD engineers and other individuals with high level credentials. Are Shell and BP and other oil companies so pompous as to not even entertain possible solutions? Such an attitude is an atrocity. Any company destroying water or land anywhere on the globe should be mandated to explore ANY solutions that may help end destruction of the environment.

Nigeria has been a cesspool of corruption for many years now. It's not surprising to read about how the government there at large profited from the common people's misery. I believe its' the scam capital of the world for a reason. My concern in regards to the current spill, I dont know if anyone remembers, but we still haven't cleaned up the first Exxon spill up in Alaska yet. Now we have to put efforts into cleaning up an even bigger one. Too many people underestimate the exxon spill, it's been 10 years and we're still cleaning it up. These oil companies are slowly but surely killing our planet, and I worry for what my daughters of 4 months and 3 will inherit, and even moreso for my grandchildren.

Shell and other companies have been able to drill and pollute without serious oversight for all these years. jameson5106

We need alternative fuels so we don't have to rely so much on oil anymore. I know we need it for now but lets get innovative.

What happened with BP and the Gulf oil spill is tragic. It is going to destroy entire ecosystems for years to come. Why was this allowed to happen? Where was the backup plan? Why didn't our federal government have regulations in place to require a backup plan that works? Of all the things that our government now has their hands on (automotive industry , banking industry, etc). shouldn't they have been protecting our federal waters? This is disheartening.

Shell like to let people think that they think of the environment, but if you look what happens in Nigeria you start to get your doubts about it. About BP, just hope they clean their mess up and compensate those who gets in trouble because of their failure.