Oil production in the Niger Delta first attained global prominence after the 1995 hangings of Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight other Ogonis. In the face of horrible publicity and credible allegations that international oil companies were complicit in systematic human rights violations against local host communities, corporate social responsibility (CSR) was embraced. CSR in the Nigerian oil industry has evolved from non-existent to limited community development programs to today's Global Memorandum of Understanding model. Yet, concomitant with CSR's growth has been a devastating increase in artisanal oil refining or “bunkering.” In this article, we do not focus on industrial scale bunkering, which clearly requires high-level political support. Instead, we focus on the growth of small-scale artisanal refining in the rural Niger Delta. We situate this sector's growth in failed government and CSR policies, highlight its devastating environmental impacts, and advocate a shift away from flawed and limited CSR to legal and regulated modular refineries that, with fewer negative developmental and environmental externalities, could serve as a vital source of job creation and wealth generation.
- Artisanal refining
- Corporate social responsibility
- Alternative livelihoods