Oil exploration can cause tremors, earthquakes, scientists warn

Following recent earth tremors in some parts of Nigeria, some scientists have warned that earthquakes can be triggered by oil and gas exploration, among other human activities, especially in the Niger Delta.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), spoke with some scientists and stakeholders on Saturday across the country against the backdrop of earth tremors in some states which has raised concern in the minds of citizens.

Most of the respondents,warned that the country could be vulnerable to earthquakes and other seismological activities, and could be triggered by the oil and gas exploration, among other human activities, especially in the Niger Delta Region.

Earth tremors recently caused a widespread panic among residents of Akenfa and Igbogene in Bayelsa State, and Akinima, Akieoniso (Oruama), One Man Country and Mbiama in Rivers State.

Tremors also happened many times in Saki, located in the northern part of Oyo State – a hilly town that lies near the source of Ofun River, which is about 60km to the Republic of Benin border.

The National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA) said that oil and gas exploration as well as human activities among others were the likely causes of tremor in the South-South.

According to the Deputy Director, Media and Corporate Communications, of NASRDA, Mr Felix Ale, the organisation had done a preliminary report on the suspected earth tremors that occurred on July 15 and July 24 in Bayelsa and Rivers states respectively.

“The report shows that oil and gas exploration, suspected suture zones and man-made activities are among likely causes of the incidents.

“At this stage, it cannot be concluded that the tremors occurred as a result of man-made activities in the region or from tectonic activities from natural sources until a detailed investigation in the entire South-South region is carried out by NASRDA’s research team,” he said.

A scientist and Director, Technology Acquisition and Adaption Federal Ministry of Science and Technology, Dr. Adeneye Talabi, also attributed the incident of earth tremors to exploration of oil and gas.

Talabi said that the Federal Government needed to save more lives by enforcing all existing rules on exploiting natural resources.

Talabi said that the government should ensure that due processes were followed to address tremors that occurred recently in the South-South region.

He said that the balance of the ecosystem had been distorted by the fact that oil had been extracted, adding that the vacuum created by extracting gas and crude oil ought to be replaced with close density commodity to avoid any future disaster.

“There is need for the Federal Government and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation in particular to enforce all the existing and rules guiding exploitation of natural resources like crude oil.

“Regarding the tremor at Bayelsa and Rivers, the fact that they have been extracting through the exploration processes and methods, vacuum has been created, “he said.

A geologist, Dr Emmanuel Adanu, the Executive Director, National Water Resources Institute, Kaduna, said Nigeria needed to be keeping records of the various earth tremors in the country to prepare ahead of future tremors in the country.