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Bonga Oil Spill: FG Orders Shell to Cough Up $ 5 Billion Fine

By on July 17, 2012

The Federal government has fined Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company (SNEPCO) $ 5 billion for spilling oil at Bonga late last year. The oil spill affected communities, waterways and the coast. Shell has been accused by the residents of the communities of not cleaning up the mess it made.

SNEPCO continues to deny that the spill affected the communities, claiming it cleaned up the spill before it affected the shoreline and that the contamination on the shore was caused by a secondary spill from another incident.

These disclosures were made at the meeting organised by the House of Representatives Committee on Environment aimed to ascertain progress report on the Bonga oil spill of December 28,  2011.

Speaking at the meeting, the Director-General, National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA), Mr Peter  Idabor said the Federal Government’s fined Shell $ 5 billion as an administrative penalty for the environmental and economic damage caused the affected communities.
He added that such fines were consistent with global best practices and what occured in the likes of Venezuela, Brazil and the USA.

He also indicated that the communities could still seek compensation after a post impact assessment had been conducted and “scientific evidence of impact established.”

He said: “Although adequate containment measures were put in place to combat the Bonga oil spill, it however posed a serious environmental threat to the offshore environments.

“The spilled 40,000 barrels impacted approximately 950 square kilometres of water surface; affected great number of sensitive environmental resources across the impacted area and  has direct social  impact on the livelihood of people in the riverine areas whose primary occupation is fishing.

“It also potentially caused a number of physiological and hispathological effects on aquatic lives while surviving aquatic species around the spill site would migrate farther distance to situate new habitat thereby forcing coastal communities to move deeper into the sea to carry out fishing activities”.

Shell spokesperson, Tony Okenedo said, “We do not believe there is any basis in law for such a fine. Neither  do we  believe the SNEPCo has committed any infraction of Nigerian law to warrant such a fine.”