Itsekiri coastal communities disagree with Shell over Bonga spill

Emma Amaize

22 January 2012, Sweetcrude, WARRI – ABOUT 64 Itsekiri coastal communities in Warri South West and Warri North Local Government Areas of Delta State, which claimed to have been affected by last month’s oil spill at the Bonga Oil Field, weekend, joined issues with the management of Shell Companies in Nigeria, SCiN, over the organization’s counter-position the controversial spill did not spread to the said communities.

In a recent letter to the Chairman of SCiN, Mutiu Sunmonu and its subsidiary, SNEPCO, which is the operator of the Bonga Field, the communities said the oil conglomerate was standing truth on the head.

The letter was signed on behalf of the affected communities by the secretary/legal adviser of Gbutse Property Limited, Stella Ozoma Esq.

According to the communities, “Our attention has been drawn to the national dailies where you Mr. Mutiu Sunmonu as well as your media officer, Mr. Joseph Obari were quoted denying that your Bonga field oil spillage of December, 2011, which is over 40,000 barrels did not get to the shorelines and, therefore, did not impact/disturb coastal villages.”

They said it was an established fact, based on SCiN/SNEPCO hydrographic survey and meteorology study that the distance from the shorelines to the Bonga Field is about 120km and the current speed within the said area is around 18km per hour, and SCiN/SNEPCO response teams commenced dispersing the spilled oil after 24 hours, because it took them about 18 hours journey from Warri/Port Harcourt to Bonga field.

The oil communities argued that SCiN/SNEPCO response teams worked for about 12 hours a day (6am to 6pm), while from 6pm to 6.00 am, the oil spillage flowed to the shorelines with the help of wind and tidal flow.

“Sir, we want to categorically reaffirm that the spilled oil and the chemicals you used in dispersing it did cause turbidity, damage and/or disturb our clients fishing activities, vegetations, fishing materials, fishes and other aquatic lives. Please, note that it has been naturally and legally settled that the Bonga field area and beyond into the sea belongs to our clients and other villages located along the Atlantic Ocean shorelines.”, they added.

The youths president of Ugbege community, Mr. Fredrick Asin,y who spoke on behalf of Ugborodo and coastal communities in Warri South West and North Local Government Areas, insisted that the spill affected their communities, adding that the people were suffering as a result of the negative impact of the oil spill

While saying that they would explore every avenue of dialogue for which Itsekiri nation was known for, Mr. Asi warned, “If SCiN refuses to heed to this call for peaceful dialogue, we will carry out enumeration and assessment of damage and thereafter demand for compensation. And let me put also that after all avenue for dialogue expires without fruitful result, disturbances will be inevitable.”

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