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Nembe oil spill: Bayelsa environmental commission seeks compensation for affected communities

Nembe oil spill: Bayelsa environmental commission seeks compensation for affected communities
December 10
22:53 2021

The Bayelsa state oil and environmental commission (BSOEC) says the affected communities of the Nembe oil spill must be cleaned and compensated.

John Sentamu, BSOEC chairman, in a statement on Friday, described the month-long spill as “Environmental Genocide,” calling for swift action from the Aiteo group.

He said the oil had flowed out into the surrounding rivers and waterways into the Atlantic, destroying the environment as well as the livelihoods of thousands of farming and fishing communities.

The commission said although the leak was stopped on Wednesday, it further calls for urgent and immediate steps to repair the environmental damage and compensate the local communities.


“The site of the spill, part of Oil Mining Lease (OML) 29 block and the Nembe Creek Trunk Line, was one of the largest and most lucrative oil blocks in Shell’s Nigerian portfolio, for over 50 years,” the commission said.

“It was also the site of hundreds of oil spills and long-running battles with communities over compensation and rehabilitation of spill-affected sites until it was sold in secret to Aiteo by its subsidiary Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) of Nigeria in 2015.”

The BSOEC urged Aiteo and the government to immediately institute a comprehensive damage assessment, clean up, and restitution plan.


“The current catastrophe is particularly tragic because of the way Nigeria’s oil industry has been restructured over the last decade which means that the big oil giants are absolved of historical responsibility for environmental damage,” it added.

“Shifts in the ownership structure (from big oil giants to indigenous companies) have insulated new companies and their predecessors from pressures for accountability; however, they should be liable for historical spills.

“In January 2021, the Dutch appeals court ruled that Royal Dutch Shell was responsible for environmental pollution by its subsidiary Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) of Nigeria. By failing to introduce effective tracking devices, the judgement said Royal Dutch Shell was culpable for oil pipeline leaks and ordered it to pay unspecified damages to farmers.”

BSOEC advised the federal government to develop new regulations on asset divestment and historical liabilities, to ensure that international oil companies can no longer simply walk away from the historical environmental damage they have caused.


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