Few countries on the face of the planet have suffered more from oil pollution than Nigeria. Over the last half century, as many as ten million barrels of oil have been spilled across the country. That’s equivalent to a spill similar in size to the Exxon Valdez catastrophe – which devastated the coast of Alaska – every single year for the last fifty years.  To download the November 2019 Interim Report - please visit: https://www.bayelsacommission.org/news/november-2019-interim-report/



Speaking today (01/11/2019)  from Nigeria the Most Reverend & Right Honourable Dr John Sentamu, Archbishop of York, launched a blistering indictment of oil companies operating in the Niger Delta calling their actions “nothing less than environmental genocide”.

The Archbishop chairs the Bayelsa State Oil and Environmental Commission, working alongside industry and environmental experts to investigate the impact of oil spills and the environmental and social damage done by International Oil Companies operating in Bayelsa State in the Niger Delta, Nigeria.

Launching the Commission’s interim report, the Archbishop accused Shell, AGIP and other oil companies of reaping environmental devastation upon the people of Bayelsa and of ignoring their pleas for assistance. 

Speaking at the launch of the Interim report in Nigeria Dr Sentamu said: • “Roughly 40m litres of oil wind up in the Niger Delta annually, eight times more than is spilled in America, the world’s biggest producer and consumer.”

• “Early analysis shows that if Bayelsa’s share of oil spilled is the same as oil pumped, as much as a barrel of oil may have been spilled for every man, woman and child living in Bayelsa today. It is estimated that the consequences of oil spills may kill around 16,000 infants in the Niger Delta annually within their first month of life.”

• “Our environment knows no bounds. We are all global citizens. It would never be acceptable to cause such environmental devastation in Europe or America, and accordingly it should never be acceptable in Africa or South America.”

• “Oil companies today have a moral obligation to uphold the same high environmental standards, wherever they operate, anything less is to knowingly continue an environmental genocide against the people of places like the Niger Delta.”


Speaking at the launch of the interim report the Governor of Bayelsa State, Henry Seriake Dickson, who established the Commission stated: 

• “I am grateful to the Archbishop, the Commissioners and the global community for highlighting this long-held injustice on the world stage. The Commission has finally provided a voice for every man, woman and child in Bayelsa that has struggled for over half a century with what can be deemed as environmental terrorism”. 

• “I established the Bayelsa State Oil and Environmental Commission to hold oil companies to account, to shift the mindset of multinationals operating in Bayelsa and to inspire a global sustainable change. Everyone deserves the same rights, whether you live in Nigeria or in the USA.”

• “Since the first oil well was drilled in Nigeria by Shell in Bayelsa in 1956, Bayelsan’s have rarely benefitted from oil. We have faced the destruction of our environment, rivers filled with oil, our farmlands destroyed, and a host of health problems including the ongoing deaths of our children. 

• “I’m grateful to the Archbishop for sharing what he has seen with the world. We, the people of Bayelsa and the world wait to hear the steps the oil companies will take in Nigeria and around the world to address this kind of environmental injustice and we eagerly anticipate the recommendations of the Commission in 2020.”


The Commission will publish its final report in early 2020. 


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About Oil and Bayelsa State 

• In 1956 Shell drilled Nigeria’s first oil well in Bayelsa State. Today, Bayelsa State is one of Nigeria’s largest oil and gas producing states, however the state has suffered vast environmental and human damage.

• Roughly 40m litres of oil wind up in the Niger Delta annually, eight times more than is spilled in America, the world’s biggest producer and consumer.

• It is estimated that annually oil spills could kill around 16,000 infants in the Niger Delta within their first month of life.     About the Commission

• The Bayelsa State Oil and Environmental Commission was convened by Henry Seriake Dickson, Governor of Bayelsa State, in the Niger Delta, in March 2019. 

• The Commission is chaired by the Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu. Commissioners include Baroness Valerie Amos, former Under Secretary General at the United Nations, and John Kufuor, former President of Ghana, as well as a number of high-level experts including pre-eminent expert on the Niger Delta, Professor Michael Watts.             

• The Commission has undertaken three visits to Bayelsa State since its launch in March 2019 to witness first-hand the devastation caused by oil spills and oil pollution. The Commission hosted meetings in all eight districts in the state and has spoken to hundreds of Bayelsans about the human and environmental impacts of oil spills and oil pollution.

• Alongside these visits the Commission has gathered evidence and testimony from Bayelsa State, Nigeria and around the world on the impact of the oil industry in the state.  

The Commission will produce its final report in early 2020 which will set out recommendations for a new legal framework that ensures accountability and an action plan for clean-up. This will include the remediation of impacted sites and the compensation of impacted communities, ensuring they reap the benefits from the production of oil within their communities

• In addition, the Commission will explore actions to develop a global standard of behaviour, for international oil companies conducting their operations in Bayelsa, Nigeria or Africa as they would in Norway, Scotland or the USA.


About the Interim Report 

• The interim report documents what the Commission has seen and heard and will be presented to the Governor of Bayelsa State on Friday 1 November by the Archbishop of York.

• The report details the environmental devastation, health impacts, community conflict, economic exclusion and lack of access to justice experienced by those in Bayelsa including reports of high incidences of cancers and other diseases in areas impacted by oil spills. 

• The report also highlights how oil company activity fuels internal divisions within communities and the lack of investment in communities despite the vast profits made from extracting millions of litres of oil from the state.


About Governor Dickson

• Governor Dickson has campaigned for the environment throughout his tenure in office. For World Environment day in 2018, Governor Dickson organised a rally against environmental damage caused by oil companies in the Niger Delta where he noted that “the world has looked on for too long without taking the necessary collective action to put a stop to the damage being done by oil companies in Bayelsa. We must put the environment and the health and wellbeing of our communities first.” 


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Source URL: https://www.archbishopofyork.org/news/news-2019/bayelsa-state-oil-and-environmental-commission-november-2019-interim-report

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