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Another Oil Spill Off the Coast of Nigeria

"Our community has witnessed another oil spill which has taken its negative toll on the environment"

Common Dreams staff

(AFP/File, Karen Bleier)

In a reminder of the cost of oil, an oil spill has hit the already ravaged Niger Delta region of Nigeria near operations by Mobil Producing Nigeria, a local subsidiary of U.S. oil behemoth ExxonMobil.

In a statement, the company "confirms that oil from an unknown source has been sighted along the shoreline near Ibeno, Akwa Ibom state."

While the company states that it has put out an emergency response team and Irvin Obot, regional direction of the national Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency, said that "Investigations are already under way to determine the source and cause of the spill," residents may feel little hope, as they are still waiting for action on other oil spill cleanup efforts.

Corporate media reports acknowledge that oil spills are a common occurrence in the region. Reuters reports that "oil spills are common in Africa's top energy producer. Stretches of the Niger Delta, a fragile wetlands environment, are coated in crude. Thousands of barrels are spilled every year, and lax enforcement means there are few penalties." And Agence France-Presse notes that Nigeria's "oil-producing Niger Delta region has been contaminated by decades of pollution."

The fishing community there is once again suffering the toxic aftermath. "Our community has witnessed another oil spill which has taken its negative toll on the environment," the village head of Ibeno's Atia community, Obong Ukott Esenem, told Agence France-Presse.

While the effects of these frequent oil disasters may be far from most in the U.S., Nigeria is a top producer of oil crude to the nation.

A previous report by Reuters detailed the scarce attention Africa's frequent oil disasters get in U.S. media.  The article quotes Holly Pattenden, African oil analyst at consultants Business Monitor International, who remarked that if the BP Gulf oil disaster had happened "in the Niger Delta, no one would be batting an eyelid.  They have these kind of oil spills in Nigeria all the time."

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