“For the Niger Delta describe and explain how the exploitation of a named energy source has brought both benefits and problems”

25 mark AS geography question on the Niger Delta and Shell oil

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"For the Niger Delta describe and explain how the
exploitation of a named energy source has brought both
benefits and problems"
The Niger Delta is located in southern Nigeria in West Africa approximately
600km south east of Lagos, and 600km south of Abuja (the capital). The Delta
covers 20,000km² and is home to 20 million people and 40 different ethnic
groups, this floodplain makes up 7.5% of Nigeria's
total land mass. Nigeria joined the league of oil
producing nations on 3rd August 1956 when oil was
discovered in commercial quantities in the Niger
Delta. Today the country ranks as the second leading
oil and gas producer in Africa and the eighth largest oil
exporter in the world; in 2008 2.1 million barrels of
crude oil per day were produced. Shell is known
around the world as one of North America's leading
producers of oil, gas, and petrochemicals, and is also
known as The Royal Dutch Shell Group. Shell Petroleum Inc. is a holding
company that is 60% owned by Royal Dutch Petroleum Company and 40%
owned by The Shell Transport and Trading Company. Shell first arrived in
Nigeria in the 1950's and is the largest oil and gas company there. It operates
a mining lease of 31,000km and has over 6000km of pipelines, 8 gas plants and
over 1,000 producing oil wells. Shell is now the longest established
international oil company in Nigeria.
The arrival of Shell in the Niger Delta has led to negative consequences and
impacts for both the people and the environment of the Delta. The Niger
Delta has become one of the most petroleum-polluted environments in the
world; around 1.5 million tons of oil has been spilt in the Delta during the past
50 years. This has led to the destruction of thousands of acres of land in Nigeria
which was used for farming or homes for the local people. Sites polluted by oil
spills were often abandoned for many years. For example, Ejamaa-Ebubu was
the site of Shell's first major oil spill blow-out in Nigeria in the 1960's. For
almost 40 years vast area of land remained deforested due to the spill. Major
oil spills started in the 1970's and became uncontrollable in the early 1990's.
This was caused by 30 years' service on unmaintained flow and delivery lines.
Shell's poor handling of oil spills has led to disputes between villages and
governments leading to increased conflict and tension in an already fragile
country.

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Nigeria is the world's second largest gas flarer after
Russia. A by-product of Gas flaring is natural gas which is
useful for electricity. There are around 70 million cubic
metres flared each year in Nigeria. The practice has been
said to release more greenhouse gases than any other
emissions source in sub-Saharan Africa. The flares
contribute to acid rain and villagers complain of the rain
corroding their buildings.…read more

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On the other hand, the introduction of oil to the Delta is not all bad. SPDC has
effectively created dependency with community engagement programmes
from the 1980's. The programme has focused on large infrastructure projects
and has led to the creation of 34 hospitals and over 250 new roads in the Niger
Delta district. Community trusts have been established in all participating
communities and have primary responsibility for ensuring that benefits from
Shell are given to the local people.…read more

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In conclusion, from the beginning SPDC has always faced an enormous
challenge in finding enough oil in a conflict ridden, fragile country to sustain the
needs of the global want for oil. Therefore SPDC, as the largest operator in the
Niger Delta, has the greatest expectation placed upon it. Neither Shell nor any
other company can be held responsible for all of the Niger Delta's problems.…read more

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