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Shell, Eni Wrongly Blames 89 Oil Spills In Nigeria On Theft, Sabotage, Says Amnesty International

London based rights group, Amnesty International (AI), says Royal Dutch Shel and Italian oil multinational, Eni, might have wrongly attributed 89 oil spills in Nigeria’s Delta to theft and sabotage.

According to AI, 46 of the pollution incidents were triggered by Shel and 43 by Eni.

“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 a report released yesterday.

“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,” the report read.

At a petroleum summit held in Abuja,  the Nigerian capital in February, the chairman of Shell  subsidiaries in Nigeria, Osagie Okumbor, said less than 10 percent of the oil spills that happen in the Delta is caused by operational failures: “You and I living in that part of the world know that when you actually look at it,  less than 10 percent,  maybe five percent of these spills are as a result of operational failures. Well over 90 percent of what we are seeing is a result of theft and sabotage to facilities., “

“This is this biggest issue that confronts us in the Delta today. In 2016 many of us in this country saw what happened in the western delta when our export line was sabotaged. This is one of the biggest reasons why this country went into recession, close 300,000 barrels per day of oil was taken out at a time when oil prices were at historic lows and it cost us well over $100 million to actually replace that line.

Since 2011, Shel has reported 1,010 spills and Eni 820 since 2014. AI’s figure of 89 falsely labeled spills, amounts to 4.8% of the reported number.

AI researcher Mark Dummett says based on evidence from their research platform Decoders, the companies are negligent and do not respond hastily to spill reports: “Shell and Eni claim they are doing everything they can to prevent oil spills but Decoders found that the companies often ignore reports for months on end. The Niger Delta is one of the most polluted places on earth and it beggars belief that the companies responsible are still displaying this level of negligence.”

The natives in places where spills occur are usually hesitant to allow the pollution to be mapped. They wait for the sludge to increase so that they can get a bigger payday.

Aaron Sayne from the Natural Resource Governing Institute, a body that advises companies and governments on environmental issues told Reuters that there are no good and bad guys in oil spill clean-ups.

“There’s no good guy here, everybody’s kind of bad. I’m sure the companies don’t do all that they can to get to these places. But then they also have genuine grievances and genuine difficulties dealing with these communities”.


“When spills become an opportunity to make money, your clean-up becomes really tough.”

Shell, Eni, ExxonMobil Corporation, Chevron Corporation and Total SA, run joint ventures with government-owned Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation. (NNPC).

They pump most of the nation’s crude from the Niger Delta. There are frequent tussles between local communities and these companies over pollution claims.

Niger Delta Oil