A Review of the Nigerian Energy Industry

Bonga spill: 55 communities sue NOSDRA, Shell

Emma Amaize

27 March 2012, Sweetcrude, WARRI – FIFTY-FIVE communities, villages, fishing camps and multi-purpose co-operative societies in Delta and Bayelsa states allegedly impacted by the December 20, 2011 Bonga oil spill have dragged the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA), Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company Limited (SNPECo) and Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited (SPDC) before a Federal High, sitting in Asaba, over their response to and management of the spill.

Suing as attorney for the affected communities and fishing camps, spread in Burutu, Warri South-West adn Ekeremor local government areas of Delta and Bayelsa states, Osteen Igbapike Esq., in a motion ex-parte by his counsel, Mr. Larry Ovwromoh, applied for leave of the court to issue and serve originating summons on the respondents, which was granted, March 6, by Justice I.N. Buba.

Among the questions for determination are whether the oil spill caused by SNPECO and SPDC on December 12, 2011, which they unilaterally adjudged to be 40,000 barrels of crude oil, is a tier 3 oil spill and whether the two respondents can unilaterally manage a tier 3 oil spill without recourse to NOSDRA as a lead agency.

Also to be determined is whether by virtue of NOSDRA (Establishment) Act, 2006, the second and third respondents ought not to have reported the oil spill within 24 hours to the nearest zonal office of the first respondent, which is in Warri.

In addition, the communities want the court to determine whether SNPECo and SPDC are not bound to pay a penalty of N500,000 daily for everyday of default to report to the appropriate office of NOSDRA and whether by regulation nine of the Oil Spill and Oily Waste Management Regulation, 2011, NOSDRA ought not to constitute a Joint Investigation Team, made up of the second and third respondents, the applicant and others, within 24 hours.

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