ExxonMobil blends toxic dispersants with oil spill, angering nigerian officials

By John Upton

Nigerian oil spill officials have accused an Exxon Mobil subsidiary of using harmful oil dispersants at the site of a large spill without their permission.

BP used similar dispersants after the Deepwater Horizon spill, sickening cleanup workers. The toxic chemicals help oil blend with water. That removes some slick from the surface; a public relations exercise that hides spilled oil and disguises the true size of a spill. But it plunges the spilled fuel deep into the water column, where it’s deadly to fish, dolphins, plankton and other marine life.

As Mobil Producing Nigeria seeks to contain its third oil spill in just three months at the Qua Iboe oil fields, along the Atlantic coastline, the company has angered National Oil Spills Detection and Response Agency officials through its use of dispersants.

“No approval was sought,” agency director Musa Idris told News Agency of Nigeria.

The company is telling the press that it received permission to use the dispersants from the Department of Petroleum Resources. Not only does Idris say that’s irrelevant – he insists that his agency is in charge of oil spill responses – but he appears to question the very honesty of Mobil’s claim.

“The DPR approval letter is questionable and we should see it,” Idris said.

Update: A December oil spill at the same site was Mobil Producing Nigeria’s fourth spill there in as many months. http://allafrica.com/stories/201212270240.html