Eni, Shell accused of serious negligence on oil spills in Nigeria

The Niger Delta region of Nigeria has been an ecological disaster zone, scarred by decades of spills that have killed trees and other plants.

Oil giants Eni and Shell have been accused of serious negligence in responding to oil spills in Niger Delta region of Nigeria.

The accusation from Amnesty International on Friday, March 16, 2018, described the oil giants’ actions as “serious negligence.”

In a report by Reuters, Amnesty International expressed that the oil giants were “taking weeks to respond to reports of spills and publishing misleading information about the cause and severity of spills, which may result in communities not receiving compensation”.

Reacting to the allegation, a Shell spokesman denied the allegations as false saying “The allegations are false, without merit and fail to recognize the complex environment in which the company operates”.

The Nigerian law states that companies must visit sites within 24 hours of reporting a spill.

Meanwhile Amnesty International said Shell has reported 1,010 spills since 2011, and Eni 820 since 2014.

It further said among those 1,830 reports it found 89 “about which there are reasonable doubts surrounding the cause provided by the oil companies”.

The Niger Delta region of Nigeria has been an ecological disaster zone, scarred by decades of spills that have killed trees and other plants.

However, clean-ups, and the associated compensation have become highly contentious, with some local communities even blocking teams’ access to spill sites, allowing the damage to worsen, in the hope of extracting a bigger pay-out.

As it is recommended by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the Vice President of Nigeria, Yemi Osinbajo had launched a clean-up exercise in Ogoni community in Rivers State in 2017.

Lending a voice to the issue, the Natural Resource Governance Institute, a non-profit group that advises countries on how to manage oil, gas and mineral resources, acknowledged there were sometimes difficulties on both sides.

Earlier in March 2018, Eni and Shell went on trial in Milan, Italy after the companies were charged with bribery and corruption in the purchase of an offshore oilfield in Nigeria.

Eni CEO Claudio Descalzi, his predecessor Paolo Scaroni and several officials from Eni and Shell were among those that faced the judge.

Meanwhile, Eni was also charged with corruption in Algeria in a separate trial and Shell stand accused of handing out bribes during the 2011 purchase of OPL245, an offshore oil block estimated to hold 9 billion barrels of crude, for $1.3 billion.

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