Concerns for oil pollution have been treated with serious attention, under the various laws, regulating environmental and oil pollution all over the world.
            In Nigeria for instance, there are both international and local legislations which have been put in place to checkmate   incidences of petroleum and industrial pollution within the country. Some of these laws are extensively reviewed below:

3.1       Local Legislations and Decrees on Control of Oil Pollution in Nigeria
i.          Oil in Navigable Waters Act[1]
            This Act, was formulated to implement the terms of the international convention for the prevention of pollution of the sea by oil, 1962. and to make provisions for such prevention in the navigable waters of Nigeria.[2]
            The provisions of section 1 of the Act,[3] made it an offence for a Nigerian ship to discharge any oil into any part of the sea which in relation to that ship, is prohibited sea area. Or if any mixture containing not less than 100 parts of oil to which this section applies is discharged from such a ship into such a part of the sea.  To this effect, the owner or master of the ship shall, subject to the provisions of this Act, be guilty of an offence under this section.[4] This section also applies to crude oil, fuel and lubricant oil and to heavy diesel oil.[5]
            section 3 of the Act, provides that if any oil or mixture containing oil is discharged  into waters from any vessel or from any place or land, or from any apparatus used for transferring oil from or to any vessel (whether to  or from a place on land or to or from another vessel). Subject to the provision of this Act;
a.         If the discharge is from a vessel, the owner or master of the vessel; or
b.         If the discharge is from a place on land, the occupier of that place; or
c.         If the discharge is from apparatus used for transferring oil from or to a vessel, then the person in charge of the apparatus, is guilty of an offence under this section and shall be punished in accordance to the provisions of section 6 of this Act 6(liability for oil pollution shall be treated in detail under chapter four of this work).
            This section applies to the whole of the sea within the seaward limits of the territorial waters of Nigeria and all other waters (including inland waters) which are within those limits and are navigable by sea-going ship.[6] However, the harbor authority may appoint a place within its jurisdiction where the ballast water[7] of vessels in which dangerous petroleum has been carried may be discharged into the waters of the harbor. At such times and subject to such condition, as the authority may determine, and where a place is so appointed, the discharge of ballast water from such vessel shall not constituted an  offence  under this section.[8]
            For the purpose of preventing or reducing discharge of oil or mixture containing oil, into the sea, the Act empowers the minister of transport to make regulations requiring Nigerian ships to be fitted with such equipment, and to comply with such other requirements, as may be prescribed[9] Failure to comply with such regulations attract punishment with a maximum fine of two thousand naira[10]
            Section 10 of the Act provides duties to report discharges of oil into waters of harbor; if any oil or mixture containing oil is discharged from a vessel into the waters of a harbor in Nigeria for the purpose of securing the safety of vessel, or of preventing damage to the vessel or her cargo or of saving life; or is found to be escaping her or to have escaped, into any such waters from a vessel in consequence of damage to the vessel or by reason of leakage; or is found to be escaping or have escaped into any such waters from a place on land. The provision of this section of the law is apt in the sense  that if such report made and on time too, it will enabled  the would be victims to put up all available preventive measure to mitigate the effects of the pollution or stem the extent of its disaster  
            However, the owner or master of the vessel or the occupier of the place on land, as the case may be, shall fort with, report the occurrence to the harbor master, stating, in the case of a report by the owner or master of a vessel, whether it falls within paragraph (a) or paragraph (b) of this subsection, and if he fairs to do so, shall be guilty of an offence under this section and shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding N400.[11]  This is in line with the international standard requirement provided under article 6 of the international convention for the prevention of pollution from ship from ship [12]
            The Act under section13, provides for enforcement and application of fine; where a fine imposed by a court in proceeding against the owner or master of a vessel for an offence under this Act is not paid at the time ordered by the court, the court shall, in addition to any other powers for enforcing payment, have power to direct the amount remaining unpaid to be levied by distress or otherwise taken in execution by way of pounding and sale of the vessel, furniture and or apparel.[13]   Where a person is convicted of an offence under section 1 or 3 of the Act, and the court imposes a fine in respect of the offence, then, if it appears to the court that any person has incurred, or will incur, expenses in removing any pollution, or making good any damage, which is attributable to the offence, the court may order a whole or part of the fine to be paid to that person for or towards defraying those expenses.[14]
            However, the Act empowers the minister of transport to exempt any vessels or classes of vessels from any of the provisions of this Act or of any regulations made there under, either absolutely or subject such conditions as he thinks fit.[15]

ii.         Associated Gas Re-Injection Act[16]
            The Associated Gas Re-injection Act, is an act made to compel every company producing oil and gas in Nigeria to submit preliminary program for gas re-injection and detailed plans for implementation of gas re-injection.
            Duties to submit preliminary program for gas re-injection is provided under section 1 of the Act.[17] This section provides among other things that every company producing oil and gas in Nigeria, shall not lather than 1st April, 1980, submit to the minister a preliminary program for the visible utilization of all associated gas produced from a field or groups of field; projects to re-inject all gases produced in associated with oil but not utilized in all industrial process.[18] However, it is a compulsory duty of the oil companies operating in the country to submit detailed plans for implementation of gas re-injection as outlined by the law[19]
            Control of gas flaring is treated under section 3 of the Act. This section state that no company engaged in the production of oil or gas shall after 1st January, 1984, flare gas produced in association with oil without a written permission by the minister. Where the minister is satisfied after 1st January, 1984, that utilization or re-injection of the produced gas is not appropriate or feasible in a particular field(s), he may issue a certificate in that respect to a company engage in the production of oil and gas;
(a)       Specifying such terms and conditions, as he may at his discretion choose to impose, for the continued flaring of gas in the particular field or fields; or
(b)       Permitting the company to continue to flare gas in the particular fields if the company pays such sum as the minister may from time to time prescribe for every 2.83.17 standard cubic metre (scm) of gas flared[20]”provided that any payment due under this paragraph shall be made in the same manner and be subjected to the same procedure as for the payment of royalties to the federal government by companies engaged in the production of oil”.[21]

Penalties under this Act
            The Act provides that, any person or persons who commit an offence under section 3 of this Act, shall forfeit the concessions granted to him in the particular field or fields in relation to which the offence was committed.
            In addition to the penalties specified under sub-section (1) of this section, the minister may order the withholding of all or parts of any entitlements of such an offending person towards the cost of completion or implementation of a desirable re-injection scheme, or the repair or restoration of any reservoir in the field in accordance with good oil field practice.

iii.       Oil Pipelines Act of 1990
            The Oil Pipeline Act,[22] makes provision for compensation in the event of oil spill through an oil pipeline, the holder of the pipeline license is mandated to pay compensation to any person whose land or interest in land (whether or not it is land in respect of which the license has been granted) is injuriously affected; or to any person who suffered damage by reason of any neglect  on the part of the holder or his agents, servants or workmen to protect, maintain or repair any work or structure executed under the license. And to any person who suffered damage as a consequence to any breakage of or leakage from the pipeline or an ancillary installation for any such damage not otherwise made good.[23]
            The Act gave the jurisdiction to the court of law to hear and determine any dispute as to whether any compensation is payable, as to the amount to be or to whom such compensation is to be paid.[24]
            The award, nature and measurement of compensation will be concisely discussed in chapter four of this work.

iv.        Federal Environmental Protection Agency Act
            The Act[25] was established under section 1. The agency is responsible for the development and protection of the environment and biodiversity conservation and sustainable development of Nigerian natural resources in general and environmental technology including initiation of policy in relation to environmental research and technology in Nigeria.[26]
According to the provision of section 21 of the Act
discharge of any harmful quantity of hazardous substance (including oil) into the environment or at the adjoining shorelines except where such discharge is permitted or authorized under any law in force in Nigeria.

The defaulters shall on conviction, be liable to pay a fine of N100,000 or imprisonment for 10 years, or both fine and imprisonment. Where the offender is a body corporate, the fine is linked to N500, 000 (criminal and civil liability for oil pollution is treated in detailed under chapter four of this work. The provision of this section is dew for review because if such meager amount as provided here is the only penal measure available to or against the perpetrators of this evil, then the   practical effect will be that these polluters will construe the verdict as a fair bid which they can pay even ten times and continue their business of indiscriminate environmental fouling.
            Section 22 of the Act imposes duty on the owners or operators of vessels or onshore or offshore facilities from which a discharge occurred to mitigate the damage by giving immediate notice of the discharge to the agency and other relevance agencies. And to begin immediate clean-up operation following  the best available clean-up practice and removal methods as may be prescribed by regulations made in Nigeria; and promptly comply with such other directions as the Agency may from  time to time prescribe.[27] Any person who contravened  the Act or any regulation made there under, shall be  liable to a fine of N20,000 or two years imprisonment or both fine and imprisonment.

3.2       International Regulatory Bodies for Control and Prevention of Oil Pollution (IRBCPOP)
             The control of oil pollution is not limited to local legislations alone. There are indeed, plethora of international conventions dealing on prevention and control of oil pollution. Examples are seen below:

i.          International Convention on the Establishment of an International Fund for Compensation for Oil Pollution Damage 1971.
            This convention[28]  was adopted in 1971 and amended by the 1992 and 2003 protocols. The Convention establishes the international oil pollution and compensation fund. To provide compensation for pollution damage, give relief to ship owner in respect to additional financial burden imposed on them by the liability convention. These relieves are subject to the conditions designed to ensure compliance with safety at sea and other conventions.[29]
            Article 4 (2) of the Convention, provides reasons for the establishment of the fund to includes: where the victim of pollution damage has been unable to access quantum of compensation measurable under the terms of liability convention as a result of the following (a) no liability for the damage arises under the liability convention; (b)  the owner liable for the  damage under the liability convention is financially incapable of meeting his obligations and any financial security that may be provided under Article vii of the Convention does not cover or is insufficient to satisfy the claims for compensation for the damage I (c) where the damage exceeds the owners liability under the liability convention.
            If the fund proves that the pollution damage resulted wholly or partly either from an act or omission done with the intent or omission by the person who suffered the damage or from the negligence of that person, the fund may be exonerated from its obligation to pay compensation to such person. However, there shall be no such exoneration of the obligation with regard to preventive measures.[30]

Amendment of the Convention in 2003
            The convention was amended by Article 6, of the 1992 protocol and Article 2 of the 2003 protocols.
            Article 6 of the 1992 protocol, provides that the aggregate amount of compensation payable by the fund shall not exceed 135 million units of account.[31] And the aggregate amount of compensation payable by the fund for pollution damage resulting from natural phenomenon of an exceptional, inevitable and irresistible nature shall not exceed 135 million units of account. Article 4 (5) of the protocol also provide that “where the amount for established claims against the fund exceeds the aggregate amount for compensation payable under paragraph 4, the amount available shall be distributed in such a manner that the proportion between any established claim and the amount of compensation actually recovered by the claimant shall be the same for all claimants”.
            Limitation of Action for compensation:
A right to compensation lapses unless an action is brought to that effect or a notification is made within three years from the date when the damage occurred. However, an action for compensation brought after six years from the date of the occurrence of the damage shall not succeed.[32]
            On the second hand, Protocol 2003, under Article 11, provides for the establishment of the International Oil Pollution Compensation Supplementary Fund. To pay compensation to any person suffering oil pollution damage, if such person has been unable to obtain full and adequate compensation for an established claim under the terms of the 1992 Fund Convention. That the total damage exceeds, or there is a risk that it will exceed, the applicable limit of compensation laid down by the convention.

ii.         International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution of the Sea by Oil:
            This convention was modified by two major international conferences; International conference on prevention of the pollution of the sea by oil, 1962; which was adopted on 18th May and 28 June, 1967. And the modification adopted by the sixth Assembly of the Inter-Governmental maritime consultative organization on 21st October, 1969 by resolution A. 175 (vi) which came into force on 20th January, 1978.
            Article11 (1)[33] provides the scope of the convention to included; any of the territories of a contracting government except (a) tankers of under 150 tons and other ships under 500 tons or gross tonnage.
            The convention prohibits the discharge of oil or oil mixture from a tanker except where (i) the tanker is proceeding en route(ii) the instantaneous rate of discharge of oil content does not exceed 60 litre per mile (the total quantity of oil discharged on a ballast voyage not exceed 1/15,000 of the total cargo-carrying capacity (iv). The tanker is more than 50 miles from the nearest land.[34]
            Article vi (2) provide penalties for an offence under the convention; when there is an unlawful discharge of oil or oil mixture from a ship outside the territorial sea of a territory, the contracting government must impose penalties that are adequate in severity to discharge any such unlawful discharge of oil and shall not be less than the penalties which may be imposed under the law of that territory in respect of the same infringement within the territorial sea.
            Limitation to the prohibition of the discharge of oil under article 111 applies to the follow; (a) the discharge of oil or oil mixture from ship for the purpose of securing  the safety of a ship, preventing damages to ship or cargo, or saving life at sea; (b) the escape of oil or of oil mixture resulting from  damage to a ship unavoidable leakage, if all reasonable precautions have been taken after the occurrence of the damage or discovery of the leakage for the purpose of preventing or minimizing the escape.[35]

iii.  International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution
        from Ships (MARPO) 1973:
            This convention was adopted in Second Nev.1973, in London for the prevention of the pollution of the marine environment through the discharge of harmful substances. Any violation of the requirements of the convention within the jurisdiction of any state party must be prohibited and sanctioned under the laws of that state party.[36]
            A party may inspect a ship when it enters the port or offshore terminals under its jurisdiction. If a request for an investigation is received from any party together with sufficient evidence that the ship has discharged harmful substances or any effluents containing such substances in any place. And the reported of such investigation shall be sent to the party requesting it and the administration for appropriate action.[37]
       Prohibition of discharge of oil or oil mixture from ships into the sea area is the responsibilities of the state parties under regulation 9 of Annex 1 of the convention.

iv.        International Convention on Oil Pollution Preparedness, Response and  Co-operation, 1990:
            This convention was adopted in 1995, abbreviated as (OPRC)  was adopted on 13th day of may 1995 at London: IMO B7, P. 990: 88 with the objective of strengthening  the legal framework for the control of environmental pollution by oil in general and marine pollution by oil in particular  The convention obliged the state parties to mandate the operators of offshore units under its jurisdiction to have oil pollution emergency plans.[38] Article 4(1) of the convention mandated each state party to; (a) compare masters of ships flying its flag and persons in charge of offshore units under its jurisdiction to report without delay any event on their ships or offshore unit involving discharge of oil; (b) require masters or other persons having charge of offshore units under its jurisdiction to report without delay any observed event at sea involving a discharge of oil or presence of oil; (c) require persons having charge of sea ports and oil handling facilities under its jurisdiction to report without delay any event involving a discharge of oil to the competent authority; (d) mandate its marine vessel inspectors and other appropriate officials to report any event of discharge of oil to the appropriate  authority without delay.
            Article 5(1) of the convention provides duties of the state parties in respect to such report to include but not limited to (a) assess the event to determine whether it is an oil pollution incidents; (b) assess the nature, extent and possible consequences of the oil pollution incidents; (c) and then inform all the states whose interest are affected or likely to be affected the details of the assessment and any action taken or intend to take, to deal with the incident.
            Each state party is mandated under the convention to establish a national system for responding promptly and effectively to oil pollution incidents.[39]

3.3       Oil Pollution Laws of other Jurisdictions
            For the fact that oil pollution speaks the same language in all the countries of its incidents, it is pertinent to take a look into the laws controlling oil pollution in other country of the world. In this work, a research is conducted into the American Oil Pollution Act, 1990.
            The American Oil Pollution Act, (O.P.A)[40] was signed into Lawson August, 1990.
            The OPA was formulated to improve the national ability of the American government to prevent and respond to oil spills by establishing provision that expand its ability in providing the money and resources necessary to respond to oil spill. The Act also created the National Oil Spill Liability Trust Feud.[41] This was made available to provide up to one billion dollars per spill incident.
            In addition, the O.P.A provides for new equipments for contingences planning both by government and industries. It also increases penalties for regulatory non compliance, broadened the response and enforcement authorities of the American’s government and preserved state authorities to establish laws governing oil spill, prevention and response within their individual jurisdictions.
            Section 1002 (a) of the Act provides that the responsible parties for a vessel or facilities from which oil is discharged is liable for (1) certain specified damages resulting from the discharged oil and (2) removal costs incurred  in a manner consistent with the National Contingences Plan (N.C.P).
            S. 1002 (2) of the Act provides exception to the clean waters Act (CWA) liability provisions to includes (1)  discharge of oil from public vessel and (2) discharge of oil from onshore facilities covered by the liability provisions of the Trans-Alaska  pipeline Authorization Act.
            The liability for tank or vessel larger than 3,000 gross tons is increased to 1,200 dollars per gross tone or 10 million dollars which ever is greater.[42]
            Responsible parties at onshore facilities and deeper water ports are liable for up to 350million dollars per spill; holder of lease or permits for offshore facilities, except deepwater ports, are liable for up to 75 million dollars per spill, plus removal of costs.
However, failure to comply with the removal order can result to civil penalties of up to 25,000 dollars for each day of violation.

3.4       The Challenges of Court Jurisdiction on Oil Pollution in Nigeria
            Jurisdiction has been defined by the court in Satyan I.v. IMB ltd to mean “the authority by which a court has to decide matters brought before it or take cognizance of issues presented before it in a former way. Utilizing the powers conferred upon it, the State High Court had before now, carried on an unlimited jurisdiction over all matters including those pertaining to pollution.[43] The court on the merit of this provision dispensed all the cases brought before it on the same ground without want of jurisdiction.
            However, the constitution (suspension and modification) Decree,[44] therefore, amended section 230 of the 1979 constitution. Which provides for the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court to includes; jurisdiction on matters relating to, “Mines and minerals, (including oil fields, oil mining, geological survey and natural gas)”. In other words, this amendment, removed the powers of the High Court, on the issues pertaining to pollution but re-invest it on the Federal High Court.
            The confusion occasioned by the forgoing was noted in the case of SPDCN Ltd v Isaih,[45] where the Court of Appeal contradicted itself by affirming the High Court jurisdiction over claims arisen from oil pollution.
            Furthermore, S. 251 (1)(n) of the 1999 constitution has retained the exclusive jurisdiction of the Federal High Court by providing that the court shall have and exercise jurisdiction to the exclusion of any other court in civil  causes and matters relating to ‘Mines and minerals (including oil fields, oil mining, geological survey and natural gas)”. Thus, this position has been affirmed in the case of SPDCN Ltd v Abel Isaih & 2 Ors, [46]where it was held that matters pertaining to mines and minerals are within the exclusive jurisdiction of the Federal High Court.
            Similarly, it is important to note that section 19 of the oil pipeline Act, which confers jurisdiction on the High Court over the area where oil spill occur, can now be red to mean Federal High Court, so as to escape the dangers of invalidation, on the grounds of incompatibility[47]with section 251(1) (n)[48].
            However, section 257 and 272 of the constitution made the jurisdiction of the State High Court and the High Court of the Federal capital territory, subject to the provisions of section 251 of the 1999 constitution (as amended).
            Finally the issue of jurisdiction can be summed up by the statement of Dr. Ayeni (Esg), counsel to the appellant in the case of SLB Consortium Ltd v. NNPC,[49] where he argued that “The fact that a party is a Federal Government agent does not place it under the exclusive jurisdiction of the Federal High Court. And that the fact that a party is an oil mining company does not also mean that actions in respect of commercial contracts in which a party can only be sued  in the Federal High Court. Reference was made to this case in reaching decision on jurisdiction in Raithwaite v. Skye Bank Plc.[50]
            However, parties to oil pollution should always take to mind the provisions of section 251 (1) (n) (supra), when making decision on which court to bring their causes. In all, I think, I agree with the submission of Prof. Chukwuemeria.71 where he stated that,
“the law need to confer concurrent jurisdiction on both the Federal and States High Courts on the matters. This will make for more expeditious and qualitative case treatment. It will also reduce the cost of litigation as borne by already impoverished rural dwellers who are almost always the victims of pollution in Nigeria”

[1] Oil in Navigable Waters Act Cap 06 L.F.N, 2010
[2] Preamble Ibid
[3] Ibid
[4] Section 1(1) ibid
[5] Section (12) (C & b) ibid
[6] Section 3 (2) C, &  a ibid
[7] Ballast water means a water rise as a result of presences of sands  beneath the   ocean
[8] Section 3 (3) of the Act op. Cit
[9] S. 5 Ibid
[10] 12. S.  6 Ibid
[11]  Section 10(2) of the Act Ibid.
[12]  Section 13 (1) of the Act Ibid.
[13] 15 parties to the convention shall co-operate in the detection of violation and the enforcement of the provisions, using all ppropriate and practicable measures of detection and environmental monitoring, adequate procedures for reporting and accumulation of evidence if an inspection indicate a violation of the convention a report; shall be forwarded to the Administration for any appropriate action.
[14] Section 13 (2) of the Act ibid.
[15] Section 15 of the Navigable waters Act ibid.
[16] Associated Gas Re-injection Act Cap. A25, L.F.N, 2010.
[17] Section 1 of the Act ibid.
[18] Section 1 (1) ibid
[19] Section 2 ibid.
[20] 22 Section 3 (1) & (2) a &b ibid
[21] ibid
[22] Oil Pipeline Act of 1990, Cap. 07 L.F.N, 2010.
[23] Section 11 (5) (a, b & c) of the Oil Pipeline Act. ibid
[24] Section 19 ibid. if there is any dispute as whither any compensation should be paid, as to the  amount to be  
    paid or as to the person to  whom such compensation should be paid shall be determined by a court of law

[25] Federal Environmental Protection Agency Act Cap. F 10 L.F.N, 2010.
[26] Section 5 of the Act ibid.
[27] Section 22 (2) (a, b & c) ibid.
[28] International Convention on Establishment of an International Fund for Compensation for Oil Pollution and damage.
[29] Article 2 (1) ibid.
[30] Article 4 (3) ibid.
[31] Article 4 (4) ibid.
[32] Article 6 ibid.
[33] Article 11(1) of the international Convention for the Prevention of Pollution of the Sea by Oil.
[34] Article 111 (b) ibid.
[35] Article iv ibid
[36] Article iv of the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships.
[37] Article 6 (5) ibid
[38] Article 3 of the International Convention on Oil Pollution Response and Co-operation

[39] Article 6(1) ibid.
[40] 44. American Oil Pollution Act 1990
[41] ibid
[42] S. 1004 of the Oil Pollution Act (OPA)
[43] By virtue of S. 236 of the 1979 Constitution of Nigeria which is in pari material with S. 251 (1)  of 1999 constitution
[44] 1993 Constitution (Suspension and Modification) Decree
[45] [1997]6 NWLR (Pt. 508) 236
[46] [2001] FWLR (Pt.56) 608 SC
[47] Section 101 of 1999 Constitution (as amended)
[48] ibid
[49] [2011]9 NWLR (Pt. 1252) 317 SC
[50] 2012] CLR 12 (e) (SC)
71 Andrew.I.Chukwuemeria “New Dimension in Commercial and Oil and Gas Law”(Law House Books Portharcort,2007) 


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