Case Name: Conflicts for oil

CASES OF ENVIRONMENTAL DAMAGE FROM OIL RESOURCES
Case Production Pollution? Human Impact? Conflict Damage?
Ecuador
Yes

Yes

No
Nigeria
Yes

Yes

No
Colombia
Yes

Yes
Azerbaijan
No

No

Yes
Kazakhstan
Yes

No

Yes
Falkland Islands
Maybe in future

No

Maybe in future
Kuwait War
No

Yes

Yes
Spratly Islands
No

No

Maybe in future

These eight case studies are all instances in which the desire for oil resources or an increase in oil production has had an adverse effect on the environment. Specifically, the impact on the environment is, or could be, the result of extraction, accidents, terrorism, or conflict. These cases give examples of situations in which there is both willful and unintentional damage caused to the environment.

The Ecuador, Nigeria, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, and Falkland Island cases are all illustrations of how oil extraction and production can directly damage the surrounding environment. There are examples of wildlife and habitat devastation through pollution, including oil waste dumping, and accidents, such as oil spills. Although the oil production is willingly performed by governments and private companies, the actual damage caused to the environment is not intentional. This is a situation in which the companies might be willing to pursue other forms of energy resources; however, their entire organizations depend on oil production as a means of business.

Likewise, the Ecuador and Nigeria cases clearly exemplify the direct negative impact that oil production can have on human beings living in the region. In Ecuador alone, hundreds of indigenous tribes have been eliminated due to the oil exploration. There should be great societal and environmental concern when an industry has contaminated the water and land resources that the population depends on. Although more attention needs to be placed on damage that is done to the wildlife, pollution that directly effects the health of human beings must be immediately dealt with.

The effects that oil pollution has had on human society has led to anti-government movements and uprisings in many areas. As a result of the damaging impact that oil production has had on the Indians in Ecuador for the past 20 years, the Indians have protested the government by resisting oil exploration and demanding rights to their ancestral lands. In addition, the situation in Nigeria has led several hundred of thousand Ogoni people to protest the government’s actions.

There are also political uprisings steming from environmental concerns. In Columbia, Marxist guerrillas have interrupted oil production through terrorist acts, such as bombings and kidnappings. These attacks on oil sites and pipelines have reportedly spilled more than 1.2 million barrels of crude oil. In both Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan the concern over which oil routes to pursue stems from the fear that the political situation or terrorism will disrupt the pipelines.

International conflict over oil resources and lands with potential oil resources is also an issue of concern. Disputes over sovereignty of the Falkland and Spratly Islands could have grave environmental impacts in the future. The delicate environments in both of those areas could be severely disrupted due to oil spills or direct attacks on production as a result of future fighting.

In most cases of international conflict, direct assaults on resource production is not common. However, in the Kuwait case this was just the opposite. During Iraqi’s control of Kuwait in the Persian Gulf War, the Iraqi government deliberately set many of the Kuwaiti oil fields on fire. Although international cooperation eventually put an end to the crisis, more than 250 million gallons of oil flowed into the Persian Gulf and many species of animals died as a result of exposure to the oil or from the polluted air. This could be an example of conflict in the future; countries may damage the natural resources of others rather than attempting to defeat the country militarily

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