Daniels Igoni, Yenagoa
The Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited and the Environmental Rights Action/ Friends of the Earth Nigeria have disagreed over Friday’s judgment of the Dutch court which asked Shell to pay compensation to farmers in Goi, Oruma, and Ikot Ada Udo communities in Rivers, Bayelsa and Akwa Ibom states as a result of oil spills and pollution.
While Shell expressed disappointment over the court’s ruling, the ERA/FoEN applauded the decision in their separate reactions.
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The Media Relations Manager of SPDC, Bamidele Odugbesan, in a statement, contended that the oil spills at Goi and Oruma were caused by sabotage, stressing that most leaks from the company’s operations were perpetrated by vandals in the Niger Delta.
He said, “We continue to believe that the spills in Oruma and Goi were the result of sabotage. We are, therefore, disappointed that this court has made a different finding on the cause of these spills and in its finding that SPDC is liable.
“Sabotage, crude oil theft, and illegal refining are a major challenge in the Niger Delta. Indeed, in 2019 around 95% of spill incidents from our operations there were due to such criminal acts.
“Regardless of cause, we clean up and remediate, as we have done with the spills in this case.
“SPDC also works with a range of stakeholders to find solutions to these complex issues. Like all Shell-operated ventures globally, we are committed to operating safely and protecting the local environment.”
But ERA/FoEN, in a reaction by its Executive Director, Chima Williams, said the verdict was a relief to the environmental rights group.
He said, “Today’s decisions will determine whether or not transnational companies will be obliged to respond in a swift and positive way when environmental complaints are made from their host country.
“This case has taken so long that two claimants are no longer alive. But the problems caused by the immense oil spill from Shell’s pipelines have still not been resolved after 13 years. It hurts that this can happen.
“The court has set a new standard that will give hope to ordinary citizens that no matter how powerful a company is, there will always be a day of reckoning.”