1.1 BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
Oil exploration started in Nigeria in 1908 at Araromi in Ondo State. The first explorer company called ―The Nigeria Bitumen Cooperation‖ was the first company licensed to explore oil. During this time drilling was not successful by as the oil exploration was halted on the outbreak of First World War in 1914. In 1937, Thirty one (31) years after licence was granted to Darchy and Anglo-Dutch Consortium, now Shell Petroleum Development Company (SDPC) for oil exploration. However, like their predecessor they were terminated by the outbreak of World War II in 193. Activities commences after the World war in 1946, which led to a successful drilling for exploration of oil on August 3rd, 1956 in Olobiri. The first shipment took place in February 1958 when production was about 5,000 barrel per day (Judith, 2009).
Since the discovery of oil in commercial quantity in Olobiri area in 1958, Nigeria became an oil producing and exporting country, thereby becoming the six largest producer of crude oil in the world. However, the blessing of the discoveries seemed to have turned out to be a plague on Nigerians generally. The people of the Niger Delta region has suffered tremendously thereby knowing no peace from environmental degradation, economic poverty, starvation, inter community conflict, above all is illegal oil bunkering which has become synonymous with the region.
The act of stealing oil is known as ―bunkering,‖ a term originally used to describe the process of filling a tanker with oil. Illegal oil bunkering thrives in a climate of instability,
conflict, and political chaos. Nigeria offers the perfect operating environment. Nigeria, a large, densely populated, and highly heterogeneous country of approximately 160 million people, it is a complex mixture of people and religions, all of whom have competing claims on an inefficient and corrupt government. There are approximately 250 ethnic groups and the population is divided evenly between Christians and Muslims. The period since the restoration of democracy in 1999 has been characterized by unusually high levels of political violence centered on the Niger Delta, the heart of Nigeria‘s oil industry. The Niger Delta consists of six or nine oil producing states in southern Nigeria, depending on one‘s geopolitical definition. The core Niger Delta states are, from east to west, Rivers, Bayelsa, and Delta.
Oil bunkering is an operation involving the fuelling of ships of all kinds on the high seas, inland waterways and within the ports. What comes to mind whenever oil bunkering is mentioned in Nigeria are thoughts of illegal oil bunkering, oil theft and pipeline vandalising. Indeed, the line between crude oil theft and oil bunkering has become very blurred in the country due to a misunderstanding of what oil bunkering operations entail. This, according to experts, is largely connected to the proliferation of crude oil theft that is already denying the country huge revenues in trillions of dollars (Oketola, 2014).
Nigeria‘s oil industry is under producing in the present circumstance of oil bunkering and insecurity. Nigeria‘s maximum producing capacity is about 3.2 million barrels per day; however, current production is often half of that, even without OPEC quota limitations. Much of the country‘s production is disrupted or shut-in ‗the oil stays in the ground‘ because of security threats to oil facilities and their staff. The oil that is produced, a significant proportion is lost through pipeline vandalism, acts of sabotage, and theft. A well-known energy security analyst,,..
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
Oil and gas reserves are concentrated in the South-southern part of the country known as the Niger Delta. This region is marked by deprivation and underdevelopment. Oil extraction is a capital rather than labour-intensive industry and, therefore, provides little employment. The region is further disadvantaged by the difficult geographical terrain which makes infrastructure costs higher, sources of conflict and the effects of environmental degradation, caused in part by the consequences of oil extraction – gas flaring, oil spills, oil bunkering etc. on traditional industries such as fishing and agriculture.
However, the poor management of oil and gas resources in this region coupled with pressures arising from environmental changes has undermined the livelihoods of women and the income they generate to sustain their families. As the resourcefulness of these women depends totally on the viability of their environment, a degraded environment is a challenge on their socio-economic status. As a result, the trends and developments underlining poverty and destitution affect women because of their socio-economic position in the society. This typically elucidates what could be referred to as ―the feminization of poverty‖ – a phenomenon which is more evident in the Niger Delta than elsewhere in the country as Amakwe (2007) puts it. Niger Delta marked by deprivation and underdevelopment in their state has resulted to the youth becoming restless in the region thereby leaving the country with unsatisfactory choices. This study is to examine how oil bunkering is being carried out, sources of conflict and its effects to the society.
1.3 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The central objective of this research are;
i. Examine the illicit removal of oil from pipelines and other distribution systems;
ii. To identify the various sources of conflict.
iii. To assess the various crises caused by the illicit removal of oil and how it affects the member of the society and sustaining peace and justice.
iv. Evaluate the impacts of the government, companies and intelligence agencies towards oil bunkering and marine security.
v. Make problem-solving recommendations towards marine security system in the state and illegal oil bunkering..
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
This research work seeks to answer the following questions;
i. How is oil bunkering carried out in the Niger Delta?
ii. What are the sources of the conflict?
iii. What are the crises that oil bunkering has caused the Niger Deltans and maintenance of peace and justice in the region most especially in Bayelsa State?
iv. What are the roles of government, oil companies and intelligence agencies towards oil bunkering?
v. What probable solutions could be applied to the problem of oil bunkering?