An oil spill is the release of a liquid petroleum hydrocarbon into the environment, especially marine areas, due to human activity, and is a form of pollution. The term is usually applied to marine oil spills, where oil is released into the ocean or coastal waters, but spills may also occur on land. Oil spills may be due to releases of crude oil from tankers, offshore platforms, drilling rigs and wells, as well as spills of refined petroleum products. The research is on How has oil spillage affected the lives of aquatic animals in Obunku community of  Oyigbo L.G.A, Rivers state. This was done through investigating the physic chemical parameters of water quality; such as  PH value, dissolved oxygen, Turbidity, Exchangeable cations -; Calcium (Ca+), Magnesium(Mg2+), Sodium(Na+), Potassium ( K+) Anions Nitrate(NO3-), Sulphate (SO42-), Phosphate(PO4 2-,) Chloride(Cl-) Heavy metals Iron(Fe2+), Lead(Pb2+), Dissolved Oxygen Demand( DO), Dissolved Carbon dioxide (CO2).

The result shows that the water samples are toxic to aquatic lives and also  When exposed to oil, adult fish may experience reduced growth, enlarged livers, changes in heart and respiration rates, fin erosion, and reproduction impairment. Oil also adversely affects eggs and larval survival.


Title page i

Certification page ii

Dedication iii

Acknowledgement iv

Abstract vi

Table of content vii


1.0  Introduction 1

1.1  Background of the study 1

1.2  Statement of the problem 6

1.3  Aim and Objectives 7

1.4  Research question 8

1.5  Significance of the study 8

1.6  Scope of the study 8

1.7  Limitation of the study 9

1.8 Significance of study 9

1.9  Study Area 10

1.9.1  Economy 11

1.9.2  Population 11


2.0  Conceptual frame work and literature review 12

2.1  Conceptual framework 12

2.2  Literature review 16

2.2.1 Oil exploration and exploitation 16

2.2.2  Oil spillage 17

2.2.3  Incidence of Oil spills 18

2.2.4  Causes of spills 20

2.2.5  Effects of oil spillage 23

2.2.6  Oil spill control 29

2.2.7   Prevention of oil spills 33

2.3 Management of oil spills in Nigeria 40

2.3.1   Oil pollution Act (OPA) of 1990 41

2.3.2  National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency 41

2.3.3  Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) 42

2.3.4   Petroleum Related Laws and Regulations 43

2.3.5  The Environmental Impact Assessment 44

2.3.6  Federal and State Agency 44

2.3.7  Effort of the Oil company $ non governmental agency 45

2.4 Aquatic animals      48

2.5 Types of aquatic lives 50


3.0 Research Methodology 51

3.1 Research design 51

3.2 Data needs 52

3.3 Source of data 52

3.3.1   Primary source 52

3.3.2   Secondary source 53

3.4 Study population 54

3.5 Method of data collection 54

3.6 Sampling technique 54

3.6.1   Laboratory analysis 55

3.7 Sample size 58

3.8 Method of data analysis 58


4.0 Result presentation and  data analysis 60

4.1 Data presentation 60

4.2 Water quality parameters 60

4.3 Physiochemical parameters 60

4.3.1   Site 1 (river) 60

4.3.2   Site 2 (well) 62

4.3.3   Site 3 (river) 63

4.3.4 Site 4 (river) 64

4.4 Discussion 66

4.5 Environmental and health implication 71


5.0 Summary and conclusion 72

5.1 Summary of findings         72



REFERENCES        79




Since the discovery of oil in Nigeria in the 1950s, the country has been suffering the negative environmental consequences of oil development. The growth of the country's oil industry, combined with a population explosion and a lack of enforcement of environmental regulations has led to substantial damage to Nigeria's environment, especially in the Niger Delta region.

An oil spill is the release of a liquid petroleum hydrocarbon into the environment, especially marine areas, due to human activity, and is a form of pollution. The term is usually applied to marine oil spills, where oil is released into the ocean or coastal waters, but spills may also occur on land. Oil spills may be due to releases of crude oil from tankers, offshore platforms, drilling rigs and wells, as well as spills of refined petroleum products (such as gasoline, diesel) and their by-products, heavier fuels used by large ships such as bunker fuel, or the spill of any oily refuse or waste oil.

Oil spills penetrate into the structure of the plumage of birds and the fur of mammals, reducing its insulating ability, and making them more vulnerable to temperature fluctuations and much less buoyant in the water. Cleanup and recovery from an oil spill is difficult and depends upon many factors, including the type of oil spilled, the temperature of the water (affecting evaporation and biodegradation), and the types of shorelines and beaches involved. Spills may take weeks, months or even years to clean up. Oil spills at sea are generally much more damaging than those on land, since they can spread for hundreds of nautical miles in a thin oil slick which can cover beaches with a thin coating of oil. This can kill sea birds, mammals, shellfish and other organisms it coats. Oil spills on land are more readily containable if a makeshift earth dam can be rapidly bulldozed around the spill site before most of the oil escapes, and land animals can avoid the oil more easily.

When we thinkof oil spills, we usually think of oil tankers spilling their cargo in oceans or seas. However, oil spilled on land often reaches lakes, rivers, and wetlands, where it can also cause damage. Oceans and other saltwater bodies are referred to as marine environments. Lakes, rivers, and other inland bodies of water are called freshwater environments. The term aquatic refers to both marine and freshwater environments.  When oil is spilled into an aquatic environment, it can harm organisms that live on or around the water surface and those that live under water. Spilled oil can also damage parts of the food chain, including human food resources. 

The severity of the impact of an oil spill depends on a variety of factors, including characteristics of the oil itself. Natural conditions, such as water temperature and weather, also influence the behavior of oil in aquatic environments. Various types of habitats have differing sensitivities to oil spills as well. Oil penetrates into the structure of the plumage of birds and the fur of mammals, reducing its insulating ability, and making them more vulnerable to temperature fluctuations and much less buoyant in the water.

Animals who rely on scent to find their babies or mothers cannot due to the strong scent of the oil. This causes a baby to be rejected and abandoned, leaving the babies to starve and eventually die. Oil can impair a bird's ability to fly, preventing it from foraging or escaping from predators. As they preen, birds may ingest the oil coating their feathers, irritating the digestive tract, altering liver function, and causing kidney damage. Together with their diminished foraging capacity, this can rapidly result in dehydration and metabolic imbalance. Some birds exposed to petroleum also experience changes in their hormonal balance, including changes in their luteinizing protein. The majority of birds affected by oil spills die from complications without human intervention. Some studies have suggested that less than one percent of oil-soaked birds survive, even after cleaning, although the survival rate can also exceed ninety percent, as in the case of the Treasure oil spill. 

Heavily furred marine mammals exposed to oil spills are affected in similar ways. Oil coats the fur of sea otters and seals, reducing its insulating effect, and leading to fluctuations in body temperature and hypothermia. Oil can also blind an animal, leaving it defenceless. The ingestion of oil causes dehydration and impairs the digestive process. Animals can be poisoned, and may die from oil entering the lungs or liver.

There are three kinds of oil-consuming bacteria. Sulfate-Reducing Bacteria (SRB) and acid-producing bacteria are anaerobic, while general aerobic bacteria (GAB) are aerobic. These bacteria occur naturally and will act to remove oil from an ecosystem, and their biomass will tend to replace other populations in the food chain.

When there is an oil spill on water, spreading immediately takes place. The gaseous and liquid components evaporate. Some get dissolved in water and even oxidize, and yet some undergo bacterial changes and eventually sink to the bottom by gravitational action. The soil is then contaminated with a gross effect upon the terrestrial life. As the evaporation of the volatile lower molecular weight components affect aerial life, so the dissolution of the less volatile components with the resulting emulsified water, affects aquatic life (Akpofure

et al, 2000).

The harmful effects of oil spill on the environment are many. Oil kills plants and animals in the estuarine zone. Oil settles on beaches and kills organisms that live there, It also settles onocean floor and kills benthic (bottom-dwelling) organisms such as crabs. Oil poisons algae,disrupts major food chains and decreases the yield of edible crustaceans. It also coats birds, impairing their flight or reducing the insulative property of their feathers, thus making the

birds more vulnerable to cold. Oil endangers fish hatcheries in coastal waters and as well contaminates the flesh of commercially valuable fish. 


The surface water throughout the water sources {well, rivers, etc} in Obunku community of Oyigbo Local Government Area, Rivers state contains hydrocarbons. Despite community concerns about their health and the damage of their water bodies, oil spill is still the order of the day. Some research show that fish consumption in Obunku community, either of those caught locally or purchased from markets are poisonous to the health. While some fishes tend to leave polluted areas in search of clean water. However, the fishes in that area will reduced in number. The wetlands around Obunku are highly degraded and facing disintegration.

Oil refineries are major polluters, consuming large amounts of energy and water, producing large quantities of waste waters, releasing hazardous gases into atmosphere and generating solid waste that are difficult both to treat and to dispose of.  In term of the oil  impact on ground water quality, it is seen in water contamination due to effluent, wash water and cooling water discharges,  Water contamination due to discharges water  effluents rich inorganic salts without appropriate treatment.

Oil spills are mainly caused by equipment failure, operational errors, and leaks 

from obsolete pipes or willful damage – (that is sabotage).  Many of the oil 

facilities and operations are located within sensitive habitats – including areas vital to fish breeding, sea turtle nesting, mangroves and rainforests. These areas have been severely damaged, contributing to increased biodiversity loss, pollution of water and land resource, deforestation which has culminated in poverty, as a result of the loss of their livelihood. Due to the many forms of oil-generated environmental pollution evident throughout the region, farming and fishing have yielded limited output compared to the pre- oil exploration years. Also drinking water sources are polluted, thus potable water have become very scarce.  The presence of oil spillages causes a major impact on the riverine ecosystem is a likely determinant of the poor water quality in oil producing communities like Obunku community in Oyigbo L.G.A, Rivers state.


The aim of this research is to determine the effect of oil spill on aquatic lives in Obunku community.

The objectives of the research are as follows;

1. To identify the effect of oil spill on aquatic lives through the use of water quality in Obunku community of Oyigbo L.G.A, Rivers state.

2. To examine the environmental effect of oil spill in Obunku community.

3. To determine the level of awareness of the effect of oil spill by the oil and gas companies in Obunku community.

4. To evaluate the impact of oil spill on the ecological development of Obunku community.

5. To profer solution to the effect of oil spill on aquatic lives in Obunku community.


1.How has oil spillage affected the lives of aquatic animals in Obunku community of  Oyigbo L.G.A, Rivers state.?

2. How has poor oil spill clean-up method affected the environment of  Obunku community?

3. What precautionary measure is set aside to minimize oil spill in Obunku community?

4. What are the obvious consequences of the disruption of aquatic lives  in Obunku community?

5. What are the ways of solving the problems of incessant oil spills in Obunku community?


 The following hypotheses were tested 

H1: There is significant positive relationship  between oil spill and aquatic live disruption in Obunku community?


This study covers  Obunku community which has about five oil wells. It includes a study of the water sources available in an attempt to determine its quality in respect to its effect on aquatic lives. The research covered the assessment of the oil exploration activities especially effects of oil spills on the water quality and its effect on aquatic lives of  Obunku community. The research was executed through survey and laboratory designs. 


The study has several limitations; amongst which is inaccessibility of the 

 exploration sites in the area due to strict security measures as to who should be 

 allowed into the flow station for the purpose of collecting information. This 

development is as a result of the youth restiveness and militancy activities in Obunku community. Also, some of the research questions were beyond the scope and capability of the indigenes, such questions as’ methods of oil spill clean-up by prospecting companies’. Everyattempt to get the administrative staff of SPDC to answer these questions met with resistance and lack of cooperation from them. 

Lastly, quantitative literature on oil spill incidents, was not sufficiently accessible, and above all, finances are some of the limitations of the study. 


Oil Spillage has deleterious effect on the environment Obunku community in Oyigbo L.G.A, Rivers state and it is a major threat to the survival of the ecological system. It is also a major reason for the incessant unrest, instability and clashes between oil prospecting companies and host community.  

A research into  effects and management of oil spills will provide information and data base which will help in the elimination and amelioration of the problem of oil spill, thereby making the environment more conducive for host communities and solve the issues of restiveness, ethnic clashes, war, hostilities that be- devils the Obunku community in Oyigbo L.G.A, Rivers state. save the huge financial loss that these crisis cause the Government of Nigeria and thereby improving the Nations Economy, because the economy of Nigeria is heavily dependant on the oil sector, as it produces as much as 90-95% of its export revenues. Also, when it is discovered from the study that oil spillage has adverse effect on the aquatic livesin Obunku community, the results of the finding will be beneficial to the community as it will act as a guide in management of aquatic animals,  water resources development, academic growth, policy formulation and also aid the municipal water treatment agency in the use of polluted water by the community.   


The study area is Obunku community which is located in Oyigbo Local Government area of  Rivers State. 

 Obunku community is made up of three autonomous communities . Obunku community is bounded by Omuosi-Ndoki, Ayama-Ndoki and Egberu-Ndoki. Obunku community lies between latitude  N 40 52I 2011 and longitude E 60 551 5311. Rivers state is bounded on the North by Bayelsa State, South by the Akwa Ibom, South- East by Abia State, and East by Imo State.

Hence, the interest in the area is both ecological and economical.       

The villages that makes up of the present Oyigbo local government area are 

historically grouped into three sub-clans, namely:  

(1) Umuihueze  Sub-clans. 

These are the villages and towns: Okoloma-Ndoki, Ayama, Obunku, Umuosi, Egber-Ndoki, Afam-Ukwu, Afam-Nta, Obeakpu-Ndoki, Mgboji -Ndoki .

(2) Okobo Sub-clan. 

These are Umuagbai, Mri-ihu, Obete, Okpontu, etc,

(3) Asa Sub-clans. 

These are Obigbo, kom-kom, Izuoma, Obeama, Mmiri-nwayi. 

1.9.1. Economy: - Obunku’s natural resources include palm oil and palm products, cassava, fruits, vegetables and maize available in large quantities. There is crude oil for the petrochemical industry. A Shell gas plant is located in Okoloma Afam near Obunku community, as are the offices of  other  companies like PHCN, Daewoo, etc.   

1.9.2. Population; According to the 2006 Census figures, Oyigbo local Government area has a population of  10,460.  Obunku community  the study area has a population of 1,307 (National Population Commission, 2009).  




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