A global coalition of environmental and human rights groups responds to the UNEP report on the ecological impact of oil spills in Ogoniland. The groups stressed that a new mechanism of providing remedies to the victims of spills is urgently needed to hold oil companies like Shell accountable.
The coalition called on the Nigerian government and oil majors to take immediate steps to repair and replace the ageing pipelines that cause daily oil spills in the Niger Delta.
NACGOND Statement on Shell’s Bodo oil spills and UNEP’s Ogoni report – 4 August 2011:
NACGOND ( National Coalition on Gas Flaring and Oil Spills in the Niger
Delta) is very pleased to welcome developments announcing that oil giant
Shell has accepted liability for two oil spills in Bodo, Rivers state,
Nigeria. However, the fact that the Bodo community had to pursue Shell to a
court in London, before a credible response on these two massive oil spills
could be extracted, highlights that almost all of the Nigerian system of
oil spill prevention, response, clean up and redress is broken. This
acceptance of responsibility by Shell in a class action suit in the UK
reassures us that oil companies can eventually be held responsible for
cases where they are responsible for neglect or abuse. However it is
disturbing that this case did not receive adequate attention until it
reached the British courts and threatened to engage Royal Dutch Shell
We shall not hesitate to encourage affected individuals or
communities to seek justice in the courts with the strongest possible
resort to the laws of home countries if companies and government bodies in
Nigeria continue to neglect their responsibilities. This seriously
highlights the failures of the Nigerian judicial system and the need for a
new compensation regime on oil spills.
We hope that work will now start from all sides to make fundamental changes
and set the Niger Delta environment on a new path. There is need for a new
independent mechanism that would conform to international best practice to
prevent, identify, respond to and quickly compensate for oil spills,
however they are caused. NACGOND call on the Federal Government and Oil
majors to engage civil society stakeholders to make this happen.
The pipeline in question, the Trans-Niger Pipeline, is over forty years
old, poorly maintained and has frequently ruptured. It is crucial that all
oil majors and the Nigerian Government ensure that all pipelines in the
Niger Delta are maintained and replaced in line with international best
practice. Shareholders should also see the value in enforcing this as it
is cheaper to replace pipelines than the pay the £250 million compensation
for these spills as highlighted by the Financial Times.
We regret that the Federal government of Nigeria through its regulatory
agencies (Nosdra, Nesrea and Ministry of Environment ) has failed woefully
to protect its own people and territory. NACGOND calls on the leadership
of the Federal government to seize the moment created by this crucial
reminder of the liabilities faced by all parties when oil is spilt in the
Niger Delta and to undertake a Presidential review of why the current
system of identification, response and redress is broken.