Nigeria Rejects Shell Compensation Offer For Oil Spills

Nigeria Rejects Shell Compensation Offer For Oil Spills

Nigeria has rejected Shell’s compensation offer. The country’s Bodo community in the oil-rich Niger Delta has rejected a compensation offer from Shell for two oil spills in 2008 that devastated the mangrove and fishing area, lawyers and the company, reports the Bellingham Herald.

“It is a great shame that the negotiations have not led to a settlement. I had hoped that this week would at last see the end of the litigation and enable us to start the process of rebuilding the community,” said Chief Kogbara, chairman of the Bodo Council.

Shell has accepted liability for the spills that took place five years ago. It however disputes the amount spilled and the impact on the community.

According to the Bodo community’s law firm, Leigh Day, 13,000 fishermen lost their livelihoods because of the spills, and 31,000 inhabitants of 35 villages were affected in and around the Bodo lagoon and its associated waterways. Other independent experts estimate between 500,000 and 600,000 barrels were spilled, devastating the environment and contaminating more than 75 square kilometers of mangroves, swamps and channels.

Shell Petroleum and Development Company of Nigeria Ltd. spokesperson Jonathan French, said the number of fisherman impacted is lower, given the size of the area and that a joint investigation team estimated that only 4,100 barrels were spilled. And still Shell says it wasn’t to blame for the most of the spill but rather they were caused by militant attacks or thieves tapping into pipelines to steal crude oil.

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“We took part in this week’s settlement negotiations with two objectives — to make a generous offer of compensation to those who have suffered hardship as a result of the two highly regrettable operational spills in 2008, and to make progress in relation to clean up,” he said.

“The Bodo members unanimously rejected the offer from the oil giant after talks that started Monday in Port Harcourt, the London-based Leigh Day law firm said in a statement,” reports the newspaper.

The compensation Shell offered amounted to about $50 million to the community, according to a person close to the talks.

Shell is still not in favor with local communities  because of environmental damage. According to some environmentalists as much as 550 million gallons of oil have been poured into the delta during Shell’s roughly 50 years of production in Nigeria, one of the top crude oil suppliers to the United States.