23 June 2013, Lagos – Amnesty International and Holland’s National Contact Point for the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, OECD, have faulted Royal Dutch Shell’s claims on incidences of oil spills in Nigeria, urging it to be prudent when publishing spill investigation data.
Shell has blamed most spills in the Niger Delta on thieves hacking into pipelines, a crime known as ‘bunkering’.
However, an independent investigation into how the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s guidelines are enforced found discrepancies between Shell’s story and other accounts of the size and cause of spills.
Holland’s National Contact Point for the OECD told the oil giant to exercise prudence when publishing spill investigation data and also called on Shell to publish figures from before January 2011, when the company began putting information about leaks on its website.
It also repeated the United Nation’s concerns that investigators are at the mercy of the oil companies when assessing the size and severity of spills.
The report follows a complaint by Friends of the Earth and Amnesty International, which submitted evidence of spill investigations it said were heavily influenced by the company.
Also speaking, Audrey Gaughran, of Amnesty said “Shell has repeatedly stated operational spills are going down and sabotage is going up. This is all based on a process where the investigator is being investigated.”
She called for more independent assessment to offset weakness in local regulation.
Shell has pointed to improvements in the way it reports spill information since 2011.
But Gaughran urged Shell to publish all investigations carried out prior to 2011, potentially exposing the company to multi-million pound lawsuits.
Shell had disclosed that its Nigerian subsidiary SPDC has been found to be in compliance with the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises.
*Michael Eboh, Vanguard