Ogoni: Oil Spill Upsets The Ogoni People
A minority rights group fighting environmental pollution in Nigeria's delta region on Wednesday reported an oil spill from a damaged pipeline owned by Anglo-Dutch oil giant Shell.
Community unrest forced Shell to quit oil production in Ogoniland in 1993 but the area is still dotted with crude oil supply pipelines belonging to the company.
"The oil spill occurred on Sunday, and since then about 10 000 barrels of crude must have been spilled into the environment," Ledum Mitee, president of the Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People (Mosop), told AFP.
"Crude oil is flowing into the swamps, polluting streams and rivers and endangering the lives of the people," he said.
He said the latest spill, which had been reported to Shell, had affected two Ogoni communities - Dio and Dere - and might spread to other areas if it was not soon contained.
Shell could not immediately confirm if the spill was fresh or one previously reported to the company last month.
Mosop was founded in 1990 by late rights activist and writer Ken Saro-Wiwa, executed in November 1995 by the military on trumped-up murder charges.
The group is seeking compensation from oil majors, particularly Royal/Dutch Shell, for environmental pollution in the Niger delta from years of exploration in the region.
The Nigerian government has set up a peace committee to mediate. Mitee said it was a good idea and hoped the dispute could be "amicably resolved."
He said any Shell return to Ogoniland would be decided after the committee has concluded its work, adding that for the initiative to succeed all sides - including Shell International and the Nigerian federal government - should be represented on it.
Shell is Nigeria's major operator, accounting for around half of the West
African country's daily output of 2.6 million barrels.