As disastrous as the Gulf oil spill is, it is dwarfed others aound the world.
The Guardian, for example, has an article about Nigeria where, they say, more oil is spilled every year than has been lost in the Gulf spill – and it’s been happening for 50 years!
Just last month, a ruptured ExxonMobil pipeline in the state of Akwa Ibom spilled more than a million gallons into the delta. Local people demonstrated against the company but say they were attacked by security guards. Within days of the Ibeno spill, thousands of barrels of oil were spilled when the nearby Shell Trans Niger pipeline. A few days after that, a large oil slick was found floating on Lake Adibawa in Bayelsa state and another in Ogoniland.
Life expectancy in rural communities in the Niger Delta, has fallen to little more than 40 years over the past two generations. Locals blame the oil that pollutes their land and can scarcely believe the contrast with the steps taken by BP and the US government to try to stop the Gulf oil leak and to protect the Louisiana shoreline from pollution. "If this Gulf accident had happened in Nigeria, neither the government nor the company would have paid much attention," said the writer Ben Ikari, a member of the Ogoni people. "This kind of spill happens all the time in the delta."
Shell Oil alone admitted to spilling 14,000 tonnes of oil from 132 spills in 2009. This was regarded as a good achievement since its annual average is 175 spills. These figures do not include vast amounts of oil dumped into waterways or the pollution from gas flaring.
Gas flaring has been illegal in Nigeria since 1984, yet Shell and Chevron continue the practice. In the mid-nineties, the World Bank estimated that flaring was responsible for 35 million tonnes of CO2 with 12 million tonnes of methane produced from Rivers and Delta States alone – making it one of the biggest single contibutors to climate change in the world.
And it’s not only happening in Nigeria. Peter Maas’ book ""Crude World: The Violent Twilight of Oil" cites many examples, including Ecuador’s remote Oriente region where Chevron is being sued by local people who allege that, between 1964 and 1992, Texaco (now part of Chevron) dumped 18 billion gallons of toxic wastewater, including 18 million gallons of oil, nearly twice the amount spilled by the Exxon Valdez. According to Peter Maas, "the pollution has poisoned the earth, rivers and air, causing miscarriages, birth defects, and cancer rates three times the national average. Cows and chickens have reportedly dropped dead; fish have gone belly up. Mothers and children walking on the oil-soaked dirt roads, the plaintiffs say, have to wash their feet in gasoline just to remove the gunk."
There are many more examples, a few are in our video clip of scenes from around the oil-addicted world.