Enhancing a framework for sustainable waste management in Nigeria’s oil and gas industry


The oil sector has been a major energy supplier since the industrial revolution, and the discovery of oil has, so far, exposed the vulnerable and dependent nature of world economies (Ferrier & Fursenko, 2016; Frank et al., 2016). The oil and gas sector has not only contributed to the economic growth of nations like Nigeria, Iran and Saudi Arabia, among others, but arguably has the highest number of employees in its supply chain (Keane and Prasad, 1996).

Nigeria’s oil and gas industry is the country’s major earner. According to the National Bureau of Statistics (2014), the Oil and Gas Industry in Nigeria is currently the leading economic sector and main source of National Income (NI). Findings also show that crude oil export is estimated at about 95 percent of foreign exchange earned per year. The oil and gas sector also contributes nearly 15 percent to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and 70 percent of government revenues.

Whilst there are clear commercial benefits associated with the petroleum industry, there are some problems as well. George et al. (2016) stated that the “oil and gas industry, despite being the mainstay of global economic progress, is known for damaging the environment, destroying habitats and adversely affecting the livelihood of communities living near operation sites”. The amount of carbon being emitted by the oil industry is far too high for the environment to sustain with a three- fold increase reported in the last 50 years due to increased demand for oil by industries and transportation firms, for example (Saswattecha et al., 2015).

Further, the Petroleum industry has been criticized by researchers, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and environmentalists for its high environmental impacts, health and safety issues and environmental damages which is mainly attributed to the lack of effective sustainability management and processes to decrease the negative effects of poor waste management (Krupnick & Gordon, 2015).

Ironically, the Nigerian oil and gas industry is also a big source of waste, and according to Steiner (2008) and Ikelegbe (2005), uncontrolled waste has brought about significant damage to crops and diminished the quality and productivity of soil. This appalling situation has greatly hampered economic development in rural Niger-Delta communities where agriculture is the major source of living. It is more so because the government and multinationals have placed much emphasis on the quantity of oil extracted without paying attention to what is left or the residue from such business activities. This has been a probable reason to the incessant cases of communal wars, kidnapping and revolt against the government. On the other hand, oil exploring companies have borne the brunt, to an extent, by first making themselves an enemy of the environment and their host communities.


Oil and gas producing nations worldwide have enacted environmental laws to check pollution from waste as a means of protecting the world from unnecessary abuse, spoliation and degradation. Considering the increasing threats from climate change and global warming, this study will focus re-examining existing waste management methods to proffer workable solutions to economic, environmental and ecological sustainability.

Krupnick and Gordon (2015) believe that sustainability approaches and systems are essential for industry-standard petroleum operations, less carbon dioxide emissions as well as more socio-economic and environmental benefits. Fuchs (2007) believes that advancement in engineering and technology have improved the effectiveness of petroleum operations in relation to production and sales, but sustainability has been neglected for quite some time.

In attaining economic and ecological sustainability, Winkler and Kaluza (2006) state that the move is vital and achievable. However, the scholars added that this objective are best achieved through integrated economic and ecological projects, which they argued, are foundational to achieving sustainability. Moreover, they opined that effective waste management is fundamental to achieving sustainable economic development around the world. Therefore, the generation of waste by the oil platforms in Nigeria is a challenge in dire need of solutions, and any waste management project should be safe, efficient, and executed in a manner that complies with strict health, environmental and safety (HES) regulations.

Aim of the Research

The aim of this research is to explore the existing waste management frameworks and the lingering challenges presented by these frameworks in the Nigerian oil and gas industry and espouse how it can be enhanced to ensure sustainability.

There will be a conduct of critical investigations with the purpose of identifying, and subsequently eradicating/minimizing environmental impacts and the barriers to WMSF implementation leading to enhanced sustainability practices.

Objectives of the Research

To achieve the research aim, the study intends to address the following objectives:

1. To critically review the literature on the concept of sustainability, environmental sustainability and environmental management frameworks as it applies to the oil and gas industry.

2. To empirically investigate the current waste management sustainability scenario in the Nigerian oil and gas industry to identify and assess relevant issues and environmental risks.

3. To identify and critically analyse the barriers and success factors of implementing waste management frameworks/approaches and environmental management systems which are sustainable in the Nigerian oil and gas industry.

4. To present a Waste Management Framework (WMF) that is sustainable for oil and gas companies operational in Nigeria, evaluates and validate the developed WMSF and create a guidance to support its implementation.

Research Philosophy

Based on the aim and objectives of this study, the researcher has proposed to adopt the pragmatist research philosophy. This is because it is a philosophy that combines research philosophies of (positivism and interpretivism) to help the researcher explore and integrate more than one research approach to have a quality data for a rich research result.

Research Design

In the context of this research, the researcher intends to use the triangulation research approach also known as the mixed method approach which involves the utilisation of the deductive research logic (quantitative methodology) to support, authenticate and corroborate the inductive research logic (qualitative methodology) and vice-versa. The study is categorised under both descriptive and explorative research from the point of view of the kind of knowledge the research determines.

Research Methods

The researcher intends to use tools like the literature documentary data, surveys, interviews and observations which will be sufficiently and precisely utilised to minimise deficiencies and ensure key elements are not missed in the research investigation process.

Data Collection Methods

This researcher deems it appropriate to use the mixed method approach with more focus to the qualitative research strategy. The qualitative methods to be used include; semi-structured and unstructured interviews and case studies as well as an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) which will be conducted in a case study format. Quantitative data collection methods like survey, questionnaires and the Life Cycle Assessment tool will be utilized for the purpose of collecting a bulk of the data and to strengthen the results of the research. These methods will be used because they are designed and used to help achieve the research aims and objectives

Sampling Methods

The researcher chooses the non-probability sampling method with focus on snowball and purposive sampling for the interviews. This is because the purposive sampling also called judgmental sampling gives the researcher a free hand to select the study case(s) which allows him/her to achieve the targeted research objectives while the snowball sampling will help reach a larger sample via the first participant in case the researcher finds it difficult to identify the targeted participants.

Sampling Size and Population

The sample size for this research will not be pre-arranged contrasting to quantitative research. The researcher however identifies three sampling groups of senior industrial practitioners, policy makers from the Nigerian oil and gas industry and Environmentalists from the Environmental Authorities because of their first-hand experience in the environmental and oil and gas industry in Nigeria. This will ensure that results are devoid of bias.

Data Analysis

The primary and secondary data collected will be analyzed for some potential recommendations. Responses/opinion of the participants will be assessed using the descriptive statistical method. To make useful conclusions and recommendations from this study, simple percentages, frequency tables and charts generated from the SPSS software will be utilized and the outcome of each analysis will be interpreted and discussed in line with findings from previous studies, including assumption or inferences from this current research. Likewise, responses from the key informant interview and documentary information will be analyzed using inferential statistical method. Inductive and deductive reasoning will also be adopted to discuss the outcome from the data sources and juxtaposed against the outcome from the questionnaire and outcome added to the conclusions and recommendations of the research.

The study will also carry out a comparative content analysis to know whether there is a presence of a shift of environmental focus to a more far-reaching certification in terms of operational framework and scope over the entire company group structure. The researcher will use NVivo software while analyzing available information to ensure maximal usage of a systematic searching and eliminate less cumbersome ways of generating themes.

Reliability of the Research

Both qualitative and quantitative inquiry will demonstrate that the research, findings and interpretation are reliable and considered valid in social research. It will be a reflection of subjectivity versus objectivity where the qualitative research will be judged through its credibility, transferability, dependability and conformability.

Validity of the Research

To achieve validity of this research, the researcher will follow the procedures of triangulation, disconfirming facts, member checking and thick and rich description as proposed by (Creswell and Miller, 2000; Hoepfl, 1997; Patton, 2005; Lincoln and Guba, 1985).

Ethical Issues of the Research

The researcher will ensure that the ethical practices and standards stipulated by University of Wales’ Trinity Saint David are followed, including all ethical committee guidelines, processes and results so that no group nor anyone’s rights is violated to create a negative psychological, social, emotional or physical harm.

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