“After flushing the lot into the sea, it all disappeared within weeks. Not a trace to be seen… It all was possible because there was a military government suppressing the press and life was good for Shell!”
“Old Nigeria Hand” posting on Shell Blog (A trustworthy source)
The Bonga spill obviously is unforgiveable. A relatively young facility should not leak oil. But the disaster as mentioned by many journalists will be minute. It is light oil and most will evaporate and disappear before hitting the beach.
In 1979 there was a spill of another magnitude: the bottom of tank 6 had dropped out in Forcados. There was 1 meter oil in the terminal and Bert Ockeloen, the General Operations Manager flew over it the next day and stated: I may lose my terminal so break the wall and flush it into the sea.
We talk of 100,000 tonnes of Forcados crude.
Fortunately it was in the middle of the rainy season, there were no spark arrestors on the export pumps and the oil was lapping at the base of these…. God took a kind eye on Forcados that day.
After flushing the lot into the sea, it all disappeared within weeks. Not a trace to be seen.
Some small money and fish was given to local villages.
Only the channel used to move the oil to the sea remained polluted and was cleaned up many years later.
It all was possible because there was a military government suppressing the press and life was good for Shell!
So, bad marks for spilling oil on Bonga but it is not the end of the world. Nigerian bacteria are very strong and will eat it all up!