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Amnesty International (AI) has claimed that oil giants Shell and Eni have been involved in 89 oil spills of about 1,830 in seven years. The international organization believed that serious negligence on the side of these two oil majors could have led to these high level of spillage.

On the Ogoni land pollution, AI revealed that the companies were “taking weeks to respond to reports of spills and publishing misleading information about the cause and severity of spills, which may result in communities not receiving compensation.”

Shell had reported 1,010 spills since 2011, and Eni 820 since 2014, according to AI, which has disclosed among those 1,830 reports, it found 89 “about which there are reasonable doubts surrounding the cause provided by the oil companies.”

However, in a swift reaction, Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Ltd (SPDC) denied the allegations levelled against it by AI, emphasizing its commitment to quick response to oil spill incidents as much as access and security conditions permit teams to mobilise and deploy to spill sites to investigate, clean up and remediate such areas.

The company made it known that it has deployed technology and best practice to make it more difficult for unauthorised persons to break pipelines and steal crude oil from its facilities. The General Manager, External Relations, Igo Weli, stated clearly that “SPDC, in collaboration with government regulators, responds swiftly to spill incidents as quickly as it can and cleans up spills from its facilities regardless of the cause.” Weli explained further “We regularly test our emergency spill response procedures and capability to ensure staff and contractors can respond rapidly to an incident.”

Besides, “response to spills, clean-up and remediation depend on access to the spill site and ultimately, on the security of personnel and equipment while work is ongoing.”

The External Relations Manager described AI’s allegations as false, without merit and fail to recognise the complex environment in which the company operates where security, a sole prerogative of government, remains a major concern with persisting incidents of criminality, kidnapping, vandalism, threats from self-described militant groups. Weli pointed out that the transparency in the online reporting of spill incidents by SPDC in its areas of operation since 2011, which AI itself acknowledged, demonstrates its commitment to creating awareness and enhancing collaboration with key stakeholders on oil spill response and clean-up processes by deepening understanding of the complex and challenging operating environment.

In similar vein, ENI spokeswoman asserted that the rights group’s statements “are not correct and, in some cases, not acceptable,” adding it had provided a detailed response to Amnesty’s allegations.”

It is not quite clear where AI got its details and there has been reported cases of oil spillage in Niger Delta communities especially in Ogoni land and the government has made efforts to clean-up the communities. But the government has not given details as well why it stalled the clean-up exercise as the communities wait for the next line of action from the federal authority.

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