Ex-Environment Commissioner chides Shell for claims that Seibou leak had no impact on Bayelsa Communities

By Ogbuagu Maduabuchi, Yenagoa

Mr Iniruo Wills, immediate past Commissioner for Environment in Bayelsa on Sunday berated Shell for its claim that the Seibou oil leak of 2015 had no adverse effect to warrant compensation.

Two years after an underwater oil leak discharged some 550 barrels of crude into Ogboinbiri River in Bayelsa, Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) said the incident had no adverse impact.

SPDC had on March 5, 2015 confirmed an oil leak from its underwater line within its oil fields in, Ogboinbiri, Bayelsa.

The Oil firm’s Spokesman Mr Joseph Obari however said in a statement that discharge of some 550 barrels of crude into Ogboinbiri River on Jan. 23, 2015 had no effect on the residents to warrant compensation.

In a reaction to the development, Wills who led the Joint Investigation Visit (JIV) to the site on Feb. 10, 2015 said that the stance of the oil firm was a fallacy.

Wills noted that the joint visit to the site had established that the spill was caused by equipment failure while the volume was beyond the tolerable safe limits for oil discharge and wondered why the oil firm was reluctant to adopt best practices.

Wills noted that he was shocked at the views of SPDC and efforts to evade liability and cover up the spill incident even when the National Oil Spills detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) had recommended compensation.

“The lies and callousness of Shell Petroleum against the poor helpless communities in Keme-Ebiama, Azagbene, etc affected by Shell’s Seibou Deep spillage is another stark reminder of Nigeria’s failure in regulating the oil sector.

“The failure is at national and state levels in this case Bayelsa, incapable and too irresponsible to fund and equip regulatory institutions with the barest of enforcement capacity to protect our most important assets – our environment and our communities.

“The response of Shell Nigeria’s management, typical of the company and most of its multinational colleagues in Nigeria leaves more to be desired even in the face of overwhelming scientific evidence.

“Only a neurotic would claim that the Seibou spill which I personally as Commissioner for Environment at the time led the JIV to, by its volume, spread and location did not affect the host and neighbouring communities.

But it remains regrettable that both the Federal Government and the Bayelsa government have abandoned these poor communities and leaving them at the mercy of these predatory oil corporations that they share the proceeds of crude oil with,” Wills said.

It will also be recalled that the oil spill regulatory agency ,NOSDRA had directed SPDC to compensate communities affected by the oil leak.

Mr Peter Idabor, Director-General at NOSDRA had told NAN that the agency established impact and therefore recommended compensation for the victims.
Idabor, however said that the oil spill agency was not aware of the status of the compensation.

SPDC’s Spokesman , Obari declined to comment on the development.

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