By Nathan Nwakamma
Yenagoa (NAN) Two years after an underwater oil leak discharged some 550 barrels of crude into Ogboinbiri River in Bayelsa, the Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) says the incident has no adverse impact to warrant compensation.
On March 5, 2015, Shell confirmed an oil leak from its underwater line at its oil field in Ogboinbiri Community in Bayelsa.
The company said that the incident discharged some 550 barrels of crude into the Ogboinbiri River on Jan. 23, 2015.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that a Joint Investigation (JIV) report had it that the leakage was caused by equipment failure, due to a ruptured pipeline.
Reacting to calls for compensation to communities affected by the leakage, the SPDC in a response made available to NAN on Thursday said the oil major was not liable and would never pay compensation.
Shell’s Spokesman, Mr Joseph Obari, said the Seibou 2 oil spill, which occurred on Jan. 23, 2015, was adequately contained within Shell’s right of way and was cleaned up.
“The National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) has issued a certificate to acknowledge SPDC’s compliance with all clean-up standards.
“The JIV was monitored by the Bayelsa State Ministry of Environment and signed out by all parties establishing that the spill did not impact any third party.
“Since compensation was not applicable in this instance, SPDC supplied relief materials to communities that used its right of way for other activities.
“A further JIV conducted in neighbouring communities did not establish a subsequent claim by the Bayelsa State Ministry of Environment of impact to third parties,” Obari said.
However, the Environmental Rights Action (ERA), group, which participated in the JIV, disagreed with the stance of SPDC.
ERA insisted that the impact was evident during the site visit with SPDC and Bayelsa government officials.
Mr Morris Alagoa, Head of ERA’s Field Office in Bayelsa, who was on the JIV team, expressed surprise at the turn of events.
“ERA’s field monitoring endeavours reached up to Keme-Ebiama and photos and videos we took confirmed the spread and impact of the equipment failure related to seibou spill.
“It is unfortunate that the regulators are so dependent on the oil companies for almost everything that the term ‘regulatory capture’ connoting a connivance of operators and regulators against communities is so real, especially in this case.
“If the regulators are as competent and independent like environmental advocacy groups like ERA, they will swiftly and independently monitor the spill.
“Through the water current, heavy volumes of crude oil spread to Keme-Ebiama and beyond.
“This craftiness of Shell in trying to evade justice will make peace an illusion in their relationship with communities.
“I speak as ERA/FoEN field monitor, who visited Keme-Ebiama and the one who alerted the state’s ministry of environment via our field report and related photos and as one who went for the JIV in the commissioner’s team.
“It is shameful that the Bayelsa State Ministry of Environment does not have a Rapid Response Unit and they lack functional vehicles and marine crafts.
“It is hypocritical to engage a workman and deny him the requisite tools and equipment to do the job required of the workman,” Morris said.