Rights group, Amnesty International (AI) has claimed that oil giant, Royal Dutch Shell, Plc and Eni Spa may have misled regulators in Nigeria by wrongly attributing oil spills to theft and sabotage in order to avoid paying compensation to affected communities.
“Amnesty International researchers have identified that at least 89 spills may have been wrongly labeled as theft or sabotage when in fact they were caused by ‘operational’ faults,” the London-based group said in the report released on Thursday.
“Of these, 46 are from Shell and 43 are from Eni. If confirmed, this would mean that dozens of affected communities have not received the compensation that they deserve.”
Shell and Eni, along with ExxonMobil Corp, Chevron Corp and Total SA, operate joint ventures with state-owned Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation that pumps most of the oil of Africa’s biggest producer. In the southern Niger Delta River, which is home to the country’s oil and gas industry, local communities are frequently in conflict with energy companies over allegations of pollution and environmental degradation linked with oil operations.
“The allegations leveled by Amnesty International are false, without merit and fail to recognise the complex environment in which the company operates,” Shell’s Nigerian unit said. It “responds to spill incidents as quickly as it can and cleans up spills from its facilities regardless of the cause”, the statement said.
Details of the alleged spills said to have occurred from 2011, in the case of Shell, and from 2014 for Eni, have been given to the Nigerian government, which is being urged to reopen investigations into the incidents, Amnesty said. But a reliable source with Shell denied the claims. He said the regulators are aware of oil spill response procedure and cannot be deceived as claimed by the group.
“If a spill occurs, a report is made and a joint team is raised which includes community representatives. The cause is determined and this process is what the regulations of the country says and Shell has not been, in anyway, found culpable of breaching the procedure except the group says the law we operate in itself is faulty”, the source said.