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Amnesty International has accused Shell and Eni of being negligent regarding oil spills in the Niger Delta—a veritable disaster site after decades of spills, sabotages, and oil theft. The organization said the oil companies have been slow in responding to spill reports, issuing “misleading information about the cause and severity of spills, which may result in communities not receiving compensation”.
Amnesty studied 1,830 reports on spills—1,010 issued by Shell since 2011 and 820 issued by Eni since 2014—and found that in 89 of those reports—provided by Shell or Eni—the cause of the spill was questionable. What’s more, Amnesty found that on several occasions the companies took weeks to respond to spills. On one occasion it took Eni more than a year to respond to a spill in the Bayelsa state in the Delta. Under Nigerian law, the response time should be 24 hours.
Shell has denied the accusations, and Eni has yet to comment on them, but both companies have previously countered the negligence argument by saying a lot of the spills are the result of sabotages and oil theft. Also, sometimes the response teams are delayed by the local community itself, in hopes for higher compensation if they let the damage get worse before the company cleans it up.
Shell has already had to pay US$76.7 million in a settlement with a Nigerian community for environmental damages.
Meanwhile, Shell and Eni are awaiting trial on corruption allegations concerning the acquisition of an offshore oil block in Nigeria, and earlier this week filed with US authorities voluntary internal investigations into how they bought the block, pre-empting an official probe.
Dutch authorities are investigating the companies for possible wrongdoing in the massive OPL 245 block, and a trial is due to begin in May in Italy, on top of another one awaiting the supermajors in Nigeria.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com