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Big Oil Could Face $12 Billion Bill To Clean Up Nigerian Spills

The clean-up of oil spills in Nigeria’s oil-producing Niger Delta could cost around $12 billion, and oil majors including Shell and Eni should be held responsible for most of the environmental pollution, a new report by a local commission showed on Tuesday.

The report by the Bayelsa State Oil & Environmental Commission said that decades of oil production has left the state of Bayelsa “in the grip of a human and environmental catastrophe of unimaginable proportions,” as carried by Bloomberg.  

“The report finds failures of strategy, prevention, response and remediation by oil companies,” the commission said in the report, as quoted by Reuters.

A spokesperson for Shell’s Nigerian unit, Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited, told Reuters that Shell was not privy to the final report and could not comment on its findings.

Eni, for its part, attributed the oil spills in the Niger Delta to sabotage, oil theft to feed illegal refineries, and illegal exports. Still, Eni has moved to remedy all spills, a spokesperson told Reuters.  

According to the report of the Bayelsa State Oil & Environmental Commission, there are “strong reasons to believe that the official statistics significantly and systematically over-state the number of leaks caused by sabotage while downplaying those attributable to other causes.”

Eni and Shell have been called out for years by human rights and environmental organizations for neglecting the clean-up of oil spills in the Niger Delta.

For example, Amnesty International said back in 2018 that its researchers “have identified that at least 89 spills may have been wrongly labeled as theft or sabotage when in fact they were caused by ‘operational’ faults.” Of these, 46 were from Shell and 43 from Eni.

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Earlier this year, the Nigerian upstream watchdog said that metering errors account for around 40% of the crude oil losses in Nigeria’s production generally attributed to oil theft.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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