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Shell Press Release
4 August 2011
UN issues report on oil spills in Ogoniland
A new UN report charting the location of oil spills in one part of the Niger Delta throws light on the environmental impact of oil thieves and illegal refiners.
This week the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) released a scientific study of oil spills in Ogoniland, in the Niger Delta.
Watch the video comment from Mutiu Sunmonu, MD Shell Petroleum Development Company of
This new report reveals the location and size of all oil contamination in Ogoniland. Notably, it shows that many spills happen far away from oil industry facilities. Although UNEP does not comment on their cause, these spills are most likely the result of oil that is regularly stolen from pipelines and transported by barge or canoe to illegal refineries deep in the mangroves and creeks of the delta, or to oil tankers waiting offshore.
This is consistent with a UNEP press release last year which highlighted how oil contamination through theft and illegal refining in the region is having repercussions on human health, security and livelihoods. In one example, fishing had been virtually destroyed in a particular coastal area.
The Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) and its joint venture partners − the Nigerian government (55%), SPDC (30%) and Total E&P Nigeria Limited (10%) and the Nigerian Agip Oil Company Limited (5%) − have operations throughout the Niger Delta. In 1993, SPDC shut down all oil production in Ogoniland – an area covering about 1% of the delta − and withdrew staff due to threats and violence against them and facilities. Now the only active SPDC infrastructure in Ogoniland are two buried main pipelines transporting oil from SPDC and other companies from fields further north to the Bonny export terminal in the south. These facilities are the target of oil thieves.
SPDC cleans up all spills from any of these SPDC facilities in Ogoniland – so long as it is safe for workers to enter the area without threats of violence − and the work is checked and approved by government agencies. Recently, the company has returned to work on more than 100 closed-in wells in Ogoniland to make them more difficult for thieves or saboteurs to tamper with.
For 15 years, SPDC has publicly released internal data on spill numbers, volumes and causes. It is the only operator in the
to do so. Nigeria
This data shows that more than 70% of SPDC spills across the delta over the last five years (2006-2010) have been the result of sabotage, oil theft and illegal refining by criminal gangs. In Ogoniland it is higher still. However, 30% have been caused by operational failure or human error. SPDC has stated publicly that this is unacceptable and that it has to improve its performance. It is determined to do everything within its control to reduce operational spills.
In early 2011, SPDC increased the level of transparency further. It set up a website that tracks every spill from the point of reporting through to completion of the clean-up and any remediation work. Investigation reports and photographs are made completely public via the site.
Ongoing talks between the SPDC, its joint venture partners, governments and NGOs continue to seek solutions to the problems of spills in the area and to increase transparency around them.