Artisanal refining of crude oil in the Niger Delta: A challenge to clean-up and remediation in Ogoniland

Paul A. Onuh, Tochukwu J. Omenma, Chinedu J. Onyishi* (Corresponding Author), Celestine U. Udeogu, Nelson C. Nkalu, Victor O. Iwuoha

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


While the activities of multinational oil corporations contribute significantly to oil pollution and environmental degradation in most oil-producing countries, the extent to which illegal artisanal refineries contribute to the environmental problems in Niger Delta remains unclear. Extant literature attributes this to the expanding activities of the artisans as well as the use of crude technology in illegal oil refining. Given the widespread nature of the artisanal oil-refining economy in the Niger Delta region, we assess its contribution to the growing environmental pollution in the region. By artisanal oil refining, we mean small-scale crude oil processing or subsistent distillation of petroleum that is often outside the boundaries of the state law. This study links the continual failure of the clean-up programme in the Niger Delta to the booming artisanal crude oil-refining economy in the region. Using predominantly qualitative methods of data collection and content analysis, we adopted the enterprise value chain analysis to underscore the underlying local economic interests and external economic opportunities that sustain oil bunkering, oil theft and petro-piracy. We conclude that these illegal refining processes significantly undermine the Ogoniland clean-up project and make the remediation programme unsustainable in Nigeria.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)468-486
Number of pages18
JournalLocal Economy
Issue number6
Early online date30 Dec 2021
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • artisanal refining
  • crude oil
  • oil spills
  • environmental remediation
  • Ogoniland
  • value chain


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