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Harnessing the regulatory framework for compliance with environmental regulations in the hydrocarbon sector in Nigeria.

Bassey, Dorothy Eno


Dorothy Eno Bassey


Babs Oyeneyin


Over the past five decades, Nigeria has witnessed immense ecological disaster arising from unsustainable environmental exploitation of its natural resource. Evidence can be seen from the oil and gas sector. Oil and gas activities in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria have not only left the environment in a deplorable state but have also distorted its delicate ecosystem, thus leaving local communities and wildlife without a healthy environment. The country has therefore lost a significant amount of its rich ecological diversity for risky economic gains. This research questions the effectiveness of the current regulatory framework adopted for the hydrocarbon sector in Nigeria. The study reviews current debates on environmental regulations, regulatory role and compliance. This research examines the Nigerian oil and gas regulatory framework and the style of compliance with environmental regulations by oil companies that operate in the country. It focuses on the role of regulators and the value of environmental compliance in oil and gas projects. It further examines how noncompliance increases production costs, loss and/or damage to assets. Compliance methodologies of companies, delayed compliance actions and outright non-compliance is highlighted and investigated in this research. The methodology adopted was a qualitative approach, whereby feedback via semi-structured interviews with veterans in the industry were used as the primary means to understand the concept of regulations and compliance. This interpretative approach studies the social reality of noncompliance in the oil sector by the interactions of groups within the industry. This interpretation of these reactions gave the basis for the conceptual model that was developed to explain the phenomenon. This primary data source was subjected to thematic content analysis, facilitating the identification of new constructs in compliance theory from the views and experiences of the twenty-seven research respondents sampled. The rich narratives from a range of seven groups across the value chain of the oil and gas sector provided valuable insights to compliance with environmental regulations in Nigeria, the lead regulatory agency, the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), and the relationship between the regulator and the regulated. This research also demonstrated the key challenges faced with reference to compliance with environmental regulations in Nigeria, and highlighted the central role played by partnerships across all levels of government in filling the human resource/capacity gap currently experienced in the sector. The thesis recommends a strategy for enhanced compliance with environmental regulations and emphasises the need for community participation in broader regulatory functions. This research also recommends clear intent of policy and regulatory outcomes as important driving factors for ensuring enhanced compliance with environmental regulations in the oil sector in Nigeria. However, the research further notes regulatory capture as a threat that can impede full compliance with regulations as well as the multidisciplinary role of several oversight agencies in the oil sector in Nigeria, with recommendations addressing these challenges.


BASSEY, D.E. 2020. Harnessing the regulatory framework for compliance with environmental regulations in the hydrocarbon sector in Nigeria. Robert Gordon University, PhD thesis. Hosted on OpenAIR [online]. Available from:

Thesis Type Thesis
Deposit Date Mar 8, 2021
Publicly Available Date Mar 8, 2021
Keywords Environmental law; Oil and gas regulation; Oil and gas industry; Nigeria
Public URL
Award Date Sep 30, 2020


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