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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
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,
David Goldwyn, told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee‘s Subcommittee on African
Affairs in September 2008, that if Nigeria was to produce oil at capacity, it would play a major
role in helping to lower and stabilize world oil prices.
The enabling environment for illegal oil bunkering includes high levels of unemployed
youth, armed ethnic militias, ineffective and corrupt law enforcement officials, protective
government officials and politicians, corrupt oil company staff, established international markets
for stolen oil, and the overall context of endemic corruption. The three types of illegal oil
bunkering include small-scale pilfering for the local market, large-scale tapping of pipelines to
fill large tankers for export, and excess lifting of crude oil beyond the licensed amount. The
complexity of players in the illegal oil bunkering business, including local youth, members of the
Nigerian military and political class, and foreign ship owners, makes it difficult to tackle the
problem unilaterally (United States Institute of Peace, 2009). Nigeria is rated 121 out of 180
nations on Transparency International‘s 2008 Corruption Perceptions Index (Policy research,
According to a report made in 2008, President Yar‘Adua made a resolution of the Niger
Delta conflict one of the key points of his 7 – point plan to reform Nigeria. Vice President
Goodluck Jonathan is an Ijaw from Bayelsa State and former Deputy Governor of Bayelsa State.
The former Chief of Defence Staff, General Azazi is also an Ijaw from Bayelsa State. It was
assumed that this combination would present a unique opportunity to command the respect of the
Ijaw militants. After 12 months, the situation in the Niger Delta has continued to deteriorate and
the calls for a fresh approach was growing daily in the Nigerian national print media.
There were spontaneous protests and local conflicts in the Niger Delta (1970s) (Danler
and Brunner 1996: 34). The protests became more extensive and better publicized with the
foundation of the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP) in 1990,
particularly because of its charismatic leader, Ken Saro‐Wiwa. Following the public presentation
of the Ogoni Bill of Rights (adopted in 1990), in which MOSOP demanded more political
autonomy and a more equitable distribution of the oil rents to the government, the first large
mass demonstration took place in 1993. Although the Ogoni representatives‘ approach was
generally peaceful, the protests gave rise to a wave of state repression against the Ogoni leaders
and led to the detention of several hundreds of activists (Ibeanu and Mohammed 2005: 44) and
the destruction of houses and villages, with numerous deaths as a result (Danler and Brunner
1996: 35).
In Niger Delta, education level is below the national average and is particularly among
women. Statistics show that while 76% of Nigerian children attend primary school, this level
drops to 30-40% in some parts of the Niger Delta. Unemployment rate in the region is reported
to be 30% (Uyigue and Agho, 2007:20). This is because of the low skills syndrome leading to
the unemployment of the people. Again, change in means of livelihood from natural sectors to
non-natural sectors due to the degraded and devastated environment has equally affected the
people adversely.
Maritime security is concerned with the prevention of international damage through
sabotage, subversion, or terrorism. Due to the rapid growth of criminal activities and vandalism
in the Middle belt region of the Niger Delta region, this study will help to educate the people of
Nigeria on the top priority of militant bunkering and need for improvement of security in the
region. Our aim in this work will be to critically and analytically examine the problem of crude
oil security in the Niger Delta area and offer solution to its eradication to a minimal level.
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.
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..
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?
This study will examine illegal oil bunkering, the conflicts and the effects on the region
Niger Delta. Recommendation will be made based on the findings of this project on how oil
bunkering has affected the Niger Delta and marine security system. This study will benefit both
public and private organizations, it also will also serves as a baseline for other researchers who
may be interested in the subject of this research. It will also be beneficial to the management of
various organizations, and policy makers as more knowledge would be gained from the research
Bunkering was introduced as a legitimate business activity with licence issued by the
Department of Petroleum Reserves (DPR). Apparently, owing to some abuse of the system in
1984, bunkering operations were limited to five (5) major oil marketing companies. However,
because of the limited time, this study is focusing on Bayelse State within the time frame of
2000-2008. This is because the discovery of oil in commercial quantity comes from Olobiri area
in Bayelsa State.
During the course of this project the researcher was limited by limited time, scarcity of
resources and the issue of insecurity of foreigners (non Bayelsan) in the study area. More so, the
expected period of data gathering fall within the period of general elections in the country which
was opined to be violent. The researcher therefore limited his source of data to information from
some petroleum expert and information retrieved from internet and print media.
This research work is divided into five chapters. The first chapter, which is the
introduction, looks at the background to the study, statement of the problem, objective of the
study, research questions, and significance of the study, organization of chapters as well as scope
of the study. The second chapter is devoted to the review of relevant literature with the aim of
providing fundamental and historical background to the study of oil bunkering and marine
security in the Niger delta. The third chapter centres on the methodology. This included methods
of data gathering, research design, research population, sample and sampling techniques,
research instruments, validity and reliability of instruments and data analysis technique. The
fourth chapter discusses presentation and analysis of report collected, interpretation and
discussion of findings. The fifth chapter discussed summary and conclusion of research work, as
well as recommendations on how the problems raised can be tackled.
Niger Delta
This is the region where oil is located in Nigeria. It is also the world largest wetland.
Administratively, it is made up of nine states being Abia State, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa State, Cross
Rriver State, Delta State, Edo State, Imo State, Ondo State, and Rivers State.
This the process of supplying fuels, including but not limited to, Automotive Gas Oil (AGO),
Fuel Oil, Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) & lubricating oils to users in the marine environment. It
is also the illicit removal of oil from a pipeline or other distribution system (Bunkering
Guidelines in Nigeria, 2014)
This refers to a clash or disagreement often violent, between two opposing groups or individual.
In respect of this study, conflict is seen as the clash between between ethnic groups in the
community because of the oil.
This is the state of being open or subject to danger or threat of danger, where danger is the
condition of being susceptible to harm or injury. It is also the absence of safety; danger; hazard;
uncertainty; lack of protection, and lack of safety.
This is a criminal act of destroying pipeline in an attempt to illegally tap oil and other petroleum
Human development
This is the process of enlarging people‘s choices. It is also an alternative approach to a single
focus on economic growth, and focused more on social justice as a way of understanding
progress (online dictionary).


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