Today Amnesty International joined the chorus of disapproval and outrage at UNEP’s decision to clear Shell of all responsibility for oil spills in Nigeria. UNEP has been widely criticised for recently using Shell data to announce that the company is only 10% responsible for the causes of oil spills.
“Relying on these figures would be a serious misjudgement, with potentially significant ramifications for those living in the Niger Delta,” said Audrey Gaughran, Director of Amnesty International’s Global Thematic Issues Program. “UNEP must be aware that the figures have been strongly challenged for years by environmental groups and communities. They are totally lacking in credibility.”
Amnesty went on to highlight how UNEP’s use of Shell data raises serious anomalies:
Between 1989 and 1994 Shell itself estimated that only 28 percent of oil spilt in the Niger Delta was caused by sabotage. In 2007 Shell’s estimate had risen to 70 per cent. The figure now given by Shell has increased to more than 90 per cent. Amnesty International has repeatedly asked Shell to produce evidence to support these figures. Shell has been unable to do so.
Friends of the Earth International, the worlds largest network of environmentalists, also condemned UNEP’s uncritical announcement of the disputed Shell data. Nnimmo Bassey, chair of Friends the Earth International and director of Environmental Rights Action in Nigeria said:
We monitor spills regularly and our observations often contradict information produced by oil companies and Nigerian regulatory agencies. If the UNEP team would ask community monitors it would avoid falling into the trap of spinning Shell’s figures. The UN assessment is being paid for by Shell so we are not surprised that it tells Shell’s version of the facts. But the reality is that several studies have placed the bulk of the blame for oil spills in the Niger Delta on the doorsteps of the oil companies; particularly Shell.