Communities rejects Shell offer to clean up oil spill

Emma Amaize

10 February 2012, Sweetcrude, WARRI- THREE communities, Ogbeintu, Oroibiri and Agge in Bayelsa state have turned down the request of Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company, SNEPCo, to clean up their environments after a third party oil spill was noticed, December 24, last year.

Remediation Manager, SNPECo, Mr. Austin Igbukwu, who disclosed this in an interactive session with newsmen in Warri, however, said, that several other communities, categorized into 21 cells accepted the clean-up exercise, which had been successfully carried out with community-based contractors and villagers participating.

He said the three dissenting communities insisted that before the company will be allowed to clean up the spill, it must first accept that it was responsible for the spillage, provide relief materials and agree on payment of compensation to the people.

Mr. Igbukwu asserted that SNPECo accepted responsibility for the Bonga FSPO oil leak on December 20, 2011, but the company was not responsible for the third party spill of December 24, 2011 that affected some communities.

As a responsible company that cared for the life and environment of members of its host communities, he said SNPECo, not only dispersed the Bonga spill before it got to the shoreline, but also engaged the communities to clean up the third party spill so as not to endanger their lives.

He said it was unprofessional to force the company to accept responsibility for spill it did not cause, adding that the leaders of the communities, where the clean-ups had been completed wrote to thank the company for its gesture.

Corporate Media Relations Manager, SNPEC, Mr. Tony Okonedo, said the company was prepared to carry up more clean ups in communities because it would not want them to be endangered in any manner, adding, “They are our host communities and we are prepared to do our best as a company to create a conducive environment”.

Managing director of the company, Mr. Mutiu Sunmonu, who corroborated Igbukwu’s position, said the third party spill was sighted December 24, last year, “as we were finalizing clean up of the leak from our Bonga offshore facility”.

“The trail of oil approximately from the Bonga FSPO was obviously different from what had leaked from our facility due to the age, shape and colour. We believe any responsible operator would clean up the spill as part of their social and environmental responsibilities”.

He thanked all parties for their support towards the successful exercise, saying that results of the samples collected during joint inspection visits conducted at the shoreline, which were sent to laboratories in America and Britain for fingerprinting were being awaited.

Sunmonu, therefore, called on parties to be patient as they await the final outcome of these investigations.

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