Nov 08, 2013

Ogoni: Shell Asked To Explain What Caused Oil Spill

Nigerian authorities and emergency response agencies are currently investigating the reasons of the oil spill in the Niger River Delta in Ogoniland, and are asking Shell to provide compensation for affected villagers.  

Below is an article published by the World Stage Group:

The Senate Committee on Environment and Ecology on Thursday [7 November 2013] quizzed the leaderships of Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) and the Hydrocarbon Pollution Restoration Project (HYPREP) over the recent oil spill in Ogoniland.

Chairman of the Committee, Senator Abubakar Bukola Saraki had summoned the management of Shell to explain what caused the spill and to make available their soil remediation and compensation plans for the affected communities.

The Manager, Oil Spill Response and Remediation, Mr. Rik Prager represented SPDC, while the National Coordinator of HYPREP, Mrs Joy Nunieh-Okunnu, led her team to the session.

Saraki lamented that over two years after the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) report detailing the degree of pollution in Ogoni land, nothing had been done to remedy the situation by the oil companies and the regulatory agencies.

He also questioned a situation where Shell was using outdated system of soil remediation called the Rena method, adding that the oil companies refused to provide the $1 billion recommended by UNEP for the cleanup and remediation of Ogoniland.

He blamed the incessant oil spill on the integrity of the pipelines which he said were between 40 to 50 years old.

He said: "If you have a surface pipeline under the American Petroleum Institute, they are not meant for more than 15 years. So why are we having pipelines in Nigeria that are surface and they are over 40 to 50 years?"

On the delay in implementing some of the UNEP's recommendations, Saraki said: "I think there are a lot of structural issues that are constituting problems there because you have policies that are not still being backed by necessary laws.  

"The agencies are not adequately being funded and the oil companies are not working with the existing regulations.

"An example is the remediation plan; UNEP recommended that this plan should be stopped. It is not effective and two years later Shell is still being irresponsible and they are still using it.

"The agency that should also be addressing some of the UNEP's recommendations has not really taken off. They are still at the stage of getting resources and getting people on board.

"There is no adequate funding from the oil companies to ensure that the $1 billion that was committed is actually available."

Mr. Prager blamed the incessant spills on acts of vandalism, saying Shell had stepped up efforts to ensure adequate protection for its pipelines.

Mrs. Nunieh-Okunnu told the committee that her agency was collaborating with international environmental bodies to ensure that the cleanup and remediation of Ogoniland is carried out with the safe and proper methods by Shell.

She said the money earmarked by the Federal Government for the project was intact.