Amnesty International and the Centre for Environment, Human Rights and Development have disputed Shell’s assessment of the 2008 Bodo oil spill in Niger Delta, saying it was far worse than the company had previously admitted.
An independent assessment obtained by the groups showed that the spill was worse than what was reported by the oil company.
Shell’s report on the spill that resulted from a faulty pipeline in Bodo, a town of 69,000 people, claimed that only 1,640 barrels of oil were spilt in total during the period.
But in a statement on Monday, Amnesty International said the figure was contrary to an unpublished assessment report conducted by a US firm, Accufacts Inc, which stated that the total amount of oil spill within a 72-day period was between 103,000 barrels and 311,000 barrels.
“The difference is staggering. Even using the lower end of the Accufacts estimate, the volume of oil spilt at Bodo was more than 60 times the volume Shell has repeatedly claimed leaked,” Audrey Gaughran, Director of Global Issues at Amnesty International said in the statement.
Shell claimed the spill began on October 5, 2008 but the community and the regulator said it started on August 28, 2008, adding that Shell did not stop the spill until November 7, which is four weeks after it claims it began, as against the community and the regulators 10 weeks.
Accufacts’ assessment revealed that when converted to litres, 7.8 million litres was spilt, using Shell’s start date, as against 260,000 litres that was reported by the oil company, adding that it would have amounted to 49 million litres if the community and regulator start date was used.
The publication coincides with a global week of action during which people from across the world are calling on Shell to accept the impact of its oil exploration on the people and environment of the Niger Delta. Before this revelation, Shell used to claim that the majority of the oil spills in the region was caused by sabotage.
The groups requested an independent process for investigating oil spills, as the causes, volume and start dates reported lacked credibility because the oil companies are given too many privileges over the system.
Reacting to the report Shell spokesman, Tony Okonedo, faulted the AI’s allegation.
He said, “Under Nigerian regulations, oil spill incidents are investigated by a joint team of operators, communities, security agencies and regulators. A similar team investigated the spills in Bodo, and we stand by their findings. The spill volume was ascertained on the ground by experts at the time and agreed by all parties – who signed off on the joint investigation report.
“As it has been stated previously, SPDC admitted liability for two spills of about 4,000 barrels in Bodo caused by operational failures, as soon as their cause had been verified in late 2008 and early 2009.”