Monday, May 17, 2021

Fishermen hail Dutch court ruling, ask Shell to pay $3.6 billion Bonga oil spill fine

Nigeria oil spill response agency, NOSDRA had slammed a $3.6 billion fine on Shell for a 2011 spill on Bonga oilfield.

• January 31, 2021
A fisherman displays his oil soaked fishing net on the polluted shoreline in Bodo
A fisherman displays his oil soaked fishing net on the polluted shoreline in Bodo. PHOTO: GEORGE OSODI/BLOOMBERG NEWS

Following Friday’s ruling by a Dutch court that found Shell liable of polluting the farmlands of four farmers in the Niger Delta region, Artisanal Fishermen Association of Nigeria (ARFAN) has advised the oil firm to promptly comply with the judgement and compensate the farmers.

The association also hailed the ruling and urged Shell to remediate the polluted environment as ordered by the Dutch appeal court.

A court in the Netherlands on Friday ordered the Nigerian subsidiary of Shell, to pay compensation over the 2008 oil spills in Oruma, Bayelsa, Goi in Rivers and Ikot Ada Udo, in Akwa Ibom.

Four farmers had dragged Shell to a Dutch court over the spillage which adversely affected their farms and their means of livelihood.

The Court of Appeal in The Hague, ruled that the Nigerian arm of the British-Dutch company, SPDC should compensate the farmers and clean-up the pollution from its leaking oil pipelines and install anti-leak devices on them.

Reacting to the judgement in an interview with NAN in Yenagoa, Samuel Ayadi, coordinator of ARFAN in the Niger Delta noted that the triumph of the farmers in a Dutch court was heartwarming.

He said that the litigation brings to mind the damage and impact of the  2011 Bonga oilfields spill which ironically led to the extinction of the bonga fish species for which the oil facility was named after.

Mr. Ayadi, a reverend, lamented that the refusal of Shell to compensate the affected fishermen for losses incurred after the spill polluted the Atlantic ocean was regrettable.

According to him, the intervention of President Muhamadu Buhari who is an apostle of the rule law to prevail on Shell to abide by court judgements has become necessary to save the agricultural sector from oil pollution.

He noted that the National Oil Spills Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA), had acted in good faith and imposed fines on Shell, but the company refused to pay and unsuccessfully challenged the fine in court.

Mr. Ayadi appealed to the government to prevail on Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company (SNEPCO), to pay the $3.6 billion fine imposed by the oil industry regulators over the 2011 Bonga oilfield spill.

He noted that the fishermen had suffered untold hardship fishing at the nation’s territorial waters since 2011 when an equipment failure from the Bonga Offshore field operated by SNEPCO discharged some 40,000 barrels of crude oil into the waters.

On December 20, 2011, during loading of crude at Bonga fields within OML 118 situated at 120 kilometres off the Atlantic coastline, the export line ruptured and discharged crude oil into the sea.

NOSDRA had in March 2015 imposed the fine on Shell for discharging 40,000 barrels of crude into the Atlantic Ocean on December 20, 2011.

The fine comprised a $1.8 bn as compensation for the damages done to natural resources and consequential loss of income by the affected shoreline communities as well as a punitive damage of $1.8 bn.

Following a legal action instituted by Shell, at a Federal High Court in Lagos, Trial judge, Justice Mojisola Olatoregun on June 20, 2018 dismissed the suit challenging the imposing of $3.6 billion fine on it by NOSDRA.

The fishermen impacted by the December 20, 2011 spill from the Bonga Oilfields advised Shell to comply with the 2018 court judgement to redeem its image as a law abiding corporate entity.


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