Sustaining oil exploration and exploitation in the emerging context of sustainable development : the case of the Niger Delta

Ejenavi, Onome and Kopela, Sophia and Summers, James (2018) Sustaining oil exploration and exploitation in the emerging context of sustainable development : the case of the Niger Delta. PhD thesis, Lancaster University.

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Sustaining oil exploration and exploitation in Nigeria’s Niger-delta in harmony with sustainable development forms the topic and core of this thesis. This research considers a beleaguered Nigerian oil industry and the pervasive contemporary struggles to sustain lucrative oil production in the Niger-delta. Currently, Nigeria grapples with unrelenting and intractable challenges in its oil industry and apparently, a plausible means of alleviating the extensive negative impacts of untenable oil exploitation patterns in the Niger-delta have remained elusive. From the foregoing, the missing ingredient seems to be a dismal lack of sustainability endeared approaches to guarantee a green petroleum industry, economic growth and poverty eradication which remain vital considerations for a developing state like Nigeria. Apparently, the development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the interests, options and indeed, the needs of future generations, summed-up in the definition of sustainable development, appears to be a maxim with minimal recognition or import in the Niger-Delta. This Research is thus motivated by the constantly evolving, yet irrefutable implications arising from the concept of Sustainable Development and how it can be realistically applied to oil and gas exploitation. Undoubtedly, the pivotal principles of Sustainable development as enunciated in: Agenda 21, the Rio Declaration, the WSSD of 2002 as well as the Rio+20 which have triggered extraordinary impact on the development policies, goals, projects and infrastructure of nations on a global scale ironically constitute the missing elements in Nigeria’s quest for sustaining oil production in the Niger-delta. Likewise, the awareness of this phenomenal concept and its application in petroleum industries of more developed states has awakened a considerable situation of unrest in the Niger-Delta region of Nigeria. This is because the immense petroleum resources in the Niger-delta have not translated into societal or economic wealth of the Niger-delta people. Undoubtedly, the vast network of petroleum resource development paraphernalia in the region which served to trigger tremendous economic growth in Nigeria for 6 decades has simultaneously and adversely impacted all aspects of the economic, environmental and social life of the indigenes due to unsustainable petroleum exploitation practices. A stark contrast is thus evident when the Niger-delta is considered in this thesis alongside developed economies which have better aligned with international law provisions to achieve greener oil industries like the UK and Norway. A comparison with these jurisdictions is provoked by the more tangible impact of sustainable development principles in the petroleum regulations of these jurisdictions. More so, oil exploitation in these countries appear to be conducted more harmoniously with nature, whilst depicting a tapestry of multifarious synergies interwoven and intersecting across the sustainable development goals. Furthermore, an analysis of the Nigerian petroleum regulatory framework and policies pinpoints the loopholes which serve to undermine a sustainable or green oil industry in the Niger-delta, inadvertently engendering environmental degradation and poverty. Notwithstanding this array of negative externalities accruing from unsustainable oil exploitation in the Niger-delta, this research proposes optimism and insight regarding the way forward. The research properly endorses sustainable development of oil and gas resources to chart an acceptable course from the petroleum induced dilemma in the Niger-delta, whilst prompting crucial policy and regulatory reforms to sustain and “green” oil exploration and exploitation in Nigeria.

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Thesis (PhD)
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18 Dec 2018 11:00
Last Modified:
06 Apr 2024 00:16