Report blames Shell over 'cover-up' of Nigeria's oil spills

Oil giant Shell has been covering up catastrophic oil spills in the Niger Delta by blaming them on sabotage by local people, according to a leading human rights group.

Those living in Nigeria's oil-rich delta are suffering a "human rights tragedy" inflicted by decades of environmental damage caused in large part by Royal Dutch Shell, Amnesty International claimed.

The report Petroleum, Pollution and Poverty in the Niger Delta, released yesterday in Abuja, says the contamination has damaged farmland, destroyed fish stocks and polluted the air and water, while oil companies' response has been misleading or inadequate.

Shell is the largest operator in the region and has long argued that insecurity in the Delta – where its operations are routinely attacked by militants – is responsible for much of the spillage and resultant environmental destruction. However, the new research alleges the oil giant has exploited the instability and lack of oversight to cover up oil spills caused by its own out-of-date or faulty equipment.

"Oil companies have huge influence over the investigation of oil spills and other industry-related damage," the report alleges. "The companies frequently designate the causes of spills, and communities cannot hold them accountable when they disagree."

Independent auditors estimate that up to 13 million barrels of oil have been spilt in the Delta, an amount equivalent to an Exxon Valdez disaster every year for 40 years. The Niger Delta is home to some 31 million people, the majority of whom live in abject poverty despite the $600bn in oil revenues generated since extraction began in 1958. Nigeria's own watchdog reports that there are 2,000 current spills, the majority of them from Shell operations.

The report highlights a spill at Bodo in Ogoniland last August caused by a pipeline leak. Oil poured into the swamp covering the area in a thick slick and killing fish. Local people's access to food and water was devastated. Shell has disputed the circumstances of the spill. Emergency help in the form of 50 bags of rice, 50 bags of beans, 50 bags of garri, 50 cartons of sugar and 50 cartons of dry peak milk was rejected as "insulting and provocative" by the community.

David Williams, for Shell, said the report failed to reflect the difficulty of operating in a region where staff are under constant threat, five having lost their lives in attacks and 133 being kidnapped. "The Amnesty report focuses on oil and gas without recognising the reality of the situation," he said. He added that 85 per cent of all spills in the area are as a result of sabotage. In the last ten days alone there have been five attacks. Mr Williams said that Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Ltd, which is 55 per cent owned by the Nigerian government, has pledged to clean up all spills irrespective of the cause.

Suggested Topics
Sport
Radamel Falcao
footballManchester United agree loan deal for Monaco striker Falcao
Voices
A man shoots at targets depicting a portrait of Russian President Vladimir Putin, in a shooting range in the center of the western Ukrainian city of Lviv
voicesIt's cowardice to pretend this is anything other than an invasion
Arts and Entertainment
The eyes have it: Kate Bush
music
Sport
Louis van Gaal, Radamel Falcao, Arturo Vidal, Mats Hummels and Javier Hernandez
footballFalcao, Hernandez, Welbeck and every deal live as it happens
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Arts and Entertainment
booksNovelist takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Arts and Entertainment
Al Pacino in ‘The Humbling’, as an ageing actor
filmHam among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
News
Fifi Trixibelle Geldof with her mother, Paula Yates, in 1985
people
Arts and Entertainment
Downton Abbey fans rejoice, series five returns later this month
TV
Arts and Entertainment
booksExclusive extract from Howard Jacobson’s acclaimed new novel
News
i100
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Y4 Teacher - Leicester

£90 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Leicester: We are currently recruiting ...

VMware Infrastructure Engineer - (VCP, VMware) - £45k, London

£45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Infrastructure Engineer, VMware (VCP, NetApp,...

Business Development Manager

Salary/Rate: £32,000/annum: M&E Global Resources Ltd: Description/Main Duties ...

IT Systems Manager

£40000 - £45000 per annum + pension, healthcare,25 days: Ashdown Group: An est...

Day In a Page

Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

Europe's biggest steampunk convention

Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor