By Sebastine Obasi,with Agency report
Shell Petroleum Development Company, SPDC, has said it accepted responsibility for the two operational spills in Bodo, Gokana Local Government Area of Rivers State, and that it wants to compensate fairly and quickly, those who have been genuinely affected by the oil spill.
This came on the heels of British-based Amnesty International’s accusation that the company under-reported the size of two 2008 oil spills in the Niger Delta.
Amnesty International also said in a statement released on Thursday in the United Kingdom, that Shell had known for years that “its pipelines in the Niger Delta were old and faulty.”
Media Relations Manager of SPDC, Mr. Precious Okolobo, said in a statement in Lagos that following the 2008 spills, a team, including relevant government agencies, SPDC and representatives of the Bodo community, visited the spill sites and completed a Joint Investigation Visit report and that the estimated total volume of oil spilled was in the region of 4,144 barrels.
“As part of the litigation process, we asked satellite remote sensing experts, hydrologists and specialists in mangrove ecology to assess how the Bodo waterways and mangroves were impacted and other relevant information addressing the question of the volume of these spills and the extent of the damage.
“Having reviewed their findings, we accept that the total volume of oil released as a result of the two operational spills is likely to have exceeded the Joint Investigation Visit estimates.
“While naturally, the findings in relation to the Bodo Joint Investigation Visit and the volume of oil from these spills are of concern to us, it is not the key issue for the purpose of determining the appropriate level of compensation.
“SPDC is prepared to compensate all members of Bodo community who have been genuinely affected by the spills, taking account of the entire area which has been impacted,” it said.
The statement explained that SPDC had been working together with the National Coalition on Gas Flaring and Oil Spills in the Niger Delta to improve the quality of Joint Investigation Visits at SPDC facilities in the Niger Delta.
The statement by Amnesty International said a court document revealed Shell had repeatedly made false claims about the size and impact of two major oil spills at Bodo in Nigeria, in an attempt to minimise its compensation payments and that the potential repercussions are that hundreds of thousands of people may have been denied or underpaid compensation based on similar underestimates of other spills.”
According to Audrey Gaughran, Director for global issues at Amnesty International.
“Shell has admitted that it underestimated the volume of oil spilled in both spills and the impact of both, which is a very significant issue, because they’ve denied that for years. People have given them evidence that they were underestimating their damages repeatedly. The second thing that emerged in these court documents is that Shell has known for years that the pipes going through the Ogoniland area were past their reasonable use-by dates, were old, leaky and in the words of the document ‘a hazard’. And this has come from internal Shell documents that show they knew how bad the pipes were.”