A small Nigerian community in the oil-rich Niger Delta region is to be paid $84 million by the oil giant Royal Dutch Shell as compensation for oil spills in 2008 and 2009.
“Oil giant Shell’s long-overdue compensation pay out to a community devastated by oil spills in the Niger Delta is an important victory for the victims of corporate negligence,” says Audrey Gaughran, Director of Global Issues at Amnesty International.
The $84 million is to be split between $30 million for the community, and the remaining $54 million to be divided between the 15,600 people, mostly fishermen, in the Bodo community – which means roughly $3,300 each.
Amnesty International earlier described Shell oil spill investigations in Nigeria as “a fiasco” after Shell has repeatedly blamed militancy and oil theft for the widespread oil pollution and environmental damage across the Niger Delta.
“Basically Shell is a lawless company,” says Stevyn Obodoekwe, Director of Programmes at Centre for Environment, Human Rights and Development (CEHRD) last year in our video interview above.
The oil spills have destroyed farming and fishing lands, and so the livelihoods of the people in the Bodo community. Shell have released a statement acknowledging responsibility for the spills:
“From the outset, we’ve accepted responsibility for the two deeply regrettable operational spills in Bodo,” its managing director Mutiu Sunmonu said.
Shell has always accepted that the two 2008 Bodo oil spills were the fault of failures on the company’s pipeline at Bodo, but publically – and repeatedly – claimed that the volume of oil spilt was approximately 4,000 barrels for both spills combined, even though the spills went on for weeks. In 2012 Amnesty International, using an independent assessment of video footage of the first oil spill, calculated that the total amount of oil split exceeded 100,000 barrels for this spill alone.
Shell have promised to clean up the spills.
“I am very happy that Shell has finally taken responsibility for its action,” says Pastor Christian Kpandei, a Bodo fish farmer, whose fish farm was destroyed by the oil spill. “I’d like to thank the lawyers for compelling Shell to make this unprecedented move.”