Despite Billion Dollar Fines Oil Spills are still happening
The Amnesty International rights group has lampooned oil giants Shell and ENI over what it described as “lack of commitment” to tackling incessant oil spills in Nigeria’s Niger Delta region.
“Royal Dutch Shell and the Italian multinational oil giant ENI have admitted to more than 550 oil spills in the Niger Delta last year, according to an Amnesty International analysis of the companies’ latest figures,” the rights group said in a Friday statement.
“By contrast, on average, there were only 10 spills a year across the whole of Europe between 1971 and 2011.”
Amnesty said although Shell reported 204 Niger Delta spills in 2014 while ENI, which operates in a smaller area, reported a staggering 349 spills, their “poor” recording system points at even grimmer picture of the situation.
“These (oil spill) figures are seriously alarming. ENI has clearly lost control over its operations in the Niger Delta. And despite all its promises, Shell has made no progress on tackling oil spills,” Amnesty’s Global Issues Director Audrey Gaughran said.
“In any other country, this would be a national emergency. In Nigeria it appears to be standard operating procedure for the oil industry. The human cost is horrific – people living with pollution every day of their lives.”
According to Amnesty International, ENI reported more than 500 oil spills in 2013. The Nigerian regulator reported 474 oil spills from ENI operations in 2012.
“The Italian government must investigate what is happening in ENI’s Nigerian operations. These figures raise serious questions about potential negligence by the company going back many years,” Gaughran said.
“As a matter of priority all oil firms in Nigeria must urgently disclose the age and condition of their infrastructure, carry out reviews of their operating practices, and make the findings public so that communities know what is going on.”
Amnesty insisted that claims by the firms that the spills often result from pipeline sabotage and theft do not hold water because the oil giants have full responsibilities for its operations.
“Whatever the cause, according to Nigerian law, the oil companies are responsible for containing and cleaning up spills, and returning affected areas to their prior state. However, this rarely happens. As a result people in the Niger Delta are living with the cumulative impact of decades of pollution,” Gaughran said.
Oil spill and gas flaring are a big feature of oil exploration in Nigeria’s delta region, resulting in damage to the ecosystem and pollution of the water sources in the area.
Earlier this month, Shell admitted to a new oil spill in Seibou community of Bayelsa state in the heart of the marshy region.
Oil firms are having legal issues with several Niger Delta communities over the issue of spills and disagreements over compensation.