After decades of exploration, energy industry giant Shell-BP discovered oil in the Niger Delta in 1956. Two years later, Nigeria officially joined the ranks of oil producers upon its first oil field coming on-stream and achieving initial production of 5,100 barrels per day (bpd). Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, oil production grew rapidly to more than 2 million bpd. Despite a subsequent drop in production due to economic decline, the industry rebounded to reach 2.5 million bpd by 2004.
While the Niger Delta region remains a hub of activity, energy companies also pursue offshore projects along Nigeria's coastline. Today, the Nigerian economy is heavily dependent on oil and gas, which accounts for approximately 90 percent of its earnings.