A non-governmental organisation, Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN), said the decline in Shell’s global profits in 2013 compared with previous years and the imposition of a N1.8 trillion fine on the company by National Oil Spills Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) and Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) was an indication that Shell’s day of reckoning has come.
It said the two happenings showed that fate was beginning to catch up with Shell for environmental degradation it had wrought on the oil producing region of Nigeria.
NOSDRA and NIMASA had slammed a fine of N1.84 trillion for the December 2011 spill in the Bonga deep offshore oil field at a time the company posted a 39-percent slump in annual net profits, two weeks after shocking the global market with a profit warning.
The company blamed high exploration costs, pressures across the oil industry and disruption to Nigerian output for the slump. ERA/FoEN head of media, Jackpo Philips, recalled that Shell had claimed that some 40,000 barrels of crude leaked into the Atlantic Ocean from its Bonga Deep Offshore Oil Fields while environmentalists and the local communities argued that the figure outweighed what Shell quoted.
“While Shell was busy lying to the global community that the spill had naturally thinned out due to chemicals and dispersants it deployed, fishermen within the Qua Iboe Oil Fields and communities near the spill site reported unusual quantity of oil sheen in their waters.
“At a public hearing organised by the House of Representatives Committee on Environment, NIMASA calculated a total of $6.5 billion (about N1.04 trillion) as compensation to be paid to the communities affected by the spill.
“NIMASA boss, Mr. Patrick Akpobolokemi, said that Shell tried as much as possible to frustrate the agency’s moves to get to the site of the spill. On its part, NOSREA fined Shell $5 billion (about N800 billion) for the oil spill incident,” it said.
It quoted ERA/FoEN Executive Director, Godwin Ojo, as saying the fines and the drop in Shell’s global profits were victory for all environmental justice groups fighting for justice in Nigeria’s Niger Delta.
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