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The Amnesty International on Wednesday issued an eighty page report accusing shell of giving spurious information on oil spills in the oil rich Niger Delta of Nigeria in order to avoid paying compensation. In the report, the group blasted shell for the poor handling of numerous spills that occurred on a yearly basis in the region.
Shell controls most of Nigeria’s oil wealth, and has issued a report blaming oil spills on sabotage. The company in its report said that it firmly rebuffed unsubstantiated assertions. According to Shell, crude oil theft is the major cause of oil pollution in Nigerian Niger Delta.
Will Ross, a BBC’s reporter in Lagos, said that the rate at which oil spills occurs yearly in the oil producing region of Nigeria was quite alarming. He reported that oil spills were causing appalling environmental damage on the Niger Delta.
Accufacts, a US pipeline specialist company also rejected Shell’s claim that oil spills were largely caused by crude oil theft. According to Accufacts, most of the oil spills resulted from corrosion of ageing pipelines.
Shell has published on its website a report of oil spill investigations, including pictures to prove that spills were caused by oil sabotage. But Accufacts rebuffed the claim questioning Shell’s methodology of calculating the cause and size of oil spills.
However, Amnesty while criticizing Shell also admitted that sabotage and theft of crude oil were serious problems in the region. But it said that the international oil companies over exaggerated the cases in order to conceal the fact that a lot of the oil spills were caused by equipment failure and corrosion of pipelines. Amnesty also stated that Shell has improved on its transparency on oil spills since 2011 but its investigation process still has serious flaws.
Niger Delta locals also commented on oil spills in the region accusing shells and other oil companies in the region of not keeping to the laws and paying compensation for oil spills. Godwin Boluku who manages a local organization that assesses clean ups of oil spills in Warri said that the locals especially farmers and fishermen suffered hunger as a result of oil spills in the region. According to him, the people will not have enough food if the land and water body do not produce as expected. Boluku blamed the disaster on government regulators for failing to enforce the law on the oil companies.
Amnesty in its report also pointed out that government regulators were not well trained, funded and equipped.
The report from Amnesty also accused other oil companies including Agip of oil spills in the region. Last year, Agip recorded 474 oil spills.
By Justin Anumiri