Since crude oil was first discovered in commercial quantities in the Country, in 1956, Nigerian oil and gas exploration and production activities have steadily increased as petroleum assumed strategic importance in the nation's economy. However, just as occurs in many parts of the world, crude oil and gas SEe found and produced in Nigeria sometimes in very hostile and unfavourable environments. The search for oil and gas takes explorers to the hot regions of the Northern parts of the country, the swamp jungle location of the Niger Delta, as well as offshore locations in the Atlantic Ocean. Each terrain, whether land, swamp or offshore, in deep or shallow waters, present unique health, safety and environmental implications and challenges to the operators, as well as, to the Government regulators. From a background of existing Nigerian Laws and operational experience, this paper details the programmes that have been put in place to guarantee a healthy workforce, ensure the safety of personnel and equipment, and protect the Nigerian environment during oil and gas exploration and production operations, as well as their documented effectiveness

The paper discusses the performance of the Petroleum Industry by analysing the health, safety and environmental records available from 1956 - 1990.

The records of major incidents related to safety and environment over the period are discussed and evaluated. The paper notes that relatively speaking, in spite of the Bomu 2 and Funiwa V oil well blowouts in 1970 and 1980 respectively which caused extensive environmental damages and the Anieze, Oniku and KC 1 gas well blow-out of 1972, 1975 and 1989 respectively, which resulted in the loss of the rigs drilling the locations concerned, the safety performance records in the Nigerian oil and gas exploration and production activities in the past thirty-five years have been satisfactory compared with the records of similar operations in most other parts of the world. Also, the paper notes with satisfaction that from the records of the number and volume of crude oil spills from 1976, the number of oil spill incidents have steadily decreased over the past fifteen years, reflecting the increased effectiveness of the administrative and regulatory control that have been put in place, as well as the commitment and responsiveness of operators to such controls.

The paper concludes with the assertion that for a continued guarantee of a healthy workforce, safety and personnel and equipment, and protection of the environment, emphasis should, as is presently the case, continue to be placed on the education and training of the personnel to create awareness of related problems, on preventive maintenance of existing facilities, and on the installation of adequate safety and pollution control equipment on the oil production and handling facilities.

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