Law and Ethics: Ethics Associated with Energy Resources Development Operations Exemplified by Petroleum Development Operations in Nigeria

Edward T. Bristol-Alagbariya


Energy resources may be described as different categories of fuels used by the humans for heating, generation of electrical energy and other forms of energy conversion processes. These resources are therefore the sources from which energy is derived, produced and supplied for the use of human beings and overall benefit of society. Energy resources are necessary for the day-to-day sustenance and survival of humans and society at large. Energy resources promote the functionality, viability and vitality of other sectors of a country’s economy. The ability of humans to harness energy resources is arguably the most important step in the history of human civilisation. The sources of global energy supply (energy resources) may be considered in two broad categories, namely non-renewable and renewable resources. Petroleum, a focal point of this study, is an example of fossil fuels. Petroleum resources are energy and major natural resources. These resources development operations are extractive industrial operations, which have tremendous negative effects on the environment and inhibit sustainable development. The adverse consequences of petroleum energy and major natural resources development operations affect the oil-rich ethnic minority Delta region and other oil producing areas of Nigeria, as well as the entire Nigerian nation. In the perspective of this study, ethics may be considered as a wide and exploratory subject of discourse, which appears like an elephant that may be described from many standpoints. Obviously, there are certain ethics, ethical issues or ethical conducts (morally good practices) associated with energy and major natural resources development operations in particular and the entire life-cycle of these resources activities in general, which are designed to promote effective energy resource operations, towards affordable, reliable, sustainable and efficient modern energy services to all societies and individuals around the globe. Law is a system of binding modes of conduct, which are formulated to govern behavioural patterns, namely the behaviour of individuals, groups and entities in society. The aim of this socio-legal study is to examine the role of law as a mechanism of social engineering,  positive change and dynamic progress in society, towards providing access to energy services for all (overall public good), by 2030 (the target year proclaimed by the UN) regarding delivery of sustainable modern energy services to all. The study arrives at the finding that law remains a significant and inevitable tool for governing behavioural patterns; nevertheless, in developing countries suffering from energy poverty like Nigeria, law is unfortunately an unresolved necessity in respect of governing energy resources operations for the daily sustenance and survival of humans and society at large.

Keywords: Law; Ethics; Energy Resources; Extractive Industrial Operations (EIOs); Petroleum Resources; Non-renewable Resources; Renewable Energy Resources; Sustainable Development (SD); Nigeria; Niger Delta; Bad Political Leadership (Bad Governance); Good Governance; Morality (Morality-in-action: Morally Good Actions); Natural Law (Natural Law School of Thought); Positive Law Theory (Positive Law School of Thought).

DOI: 10.7176/IAGS/81-09

Publication date:April 30th 2020

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