ILLEGAL REFINERIES AND ITS ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT IN THE NIGER DELTA: ISSUES AND CHALLENGES

Abstract
The locally contextualized innovative strategy for petroleum refining in the Niger Delta is typically called artisanal refining. Artisanal refineries are small-scale facilities that perform
subsistent distillation of crude petroleum over a specific range of heating points, producing useable products such as kerosene, fuel,
diesel, bitumen and wastes. The process involves traditional knowledge and skills with little reliance on advanced technology. Artisanal refineries use a simplified version of fractional
distillation (locally called “cooking”). They cook barrels of crude oil with firewood and other mixtures in sealed tanks constructed from metal. The crude then evaporates and passes through two parallel pipes joined to the tank through a cooling water bath usually constructed with wood. The refined products then drip out slowly into a container with different products emerging at various intervals. The paper aimed at examining illegal refineries and its environmental impact in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria. The doctrinal research methodology was employed to achieve the aim of this paper. The finding of the paper revealed that artisanal refining is a serious business in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria for youths in some oil-bearing communities, especially in those clusters that gave them moral support. This paper therefore
recommended that the policy thrust of the federal government of Nigeria should be on how to discourage artisanal refining in the Niger Delta region, this would be achieved through licensing of citizens of the Region and others to operate modular refineries.

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