January 27, 2011

We won’t pay compensation for oil spill caused by sabotage – Shell

By Uduma Kalu, with agency reports
LAGOS — Shell executives have insisted they would not pay compensation for up to 2,000 oil spills caused by sabotage. The company has also pledged to appeal a $100m (£63m) fine from a Nigerian court for a 40-year-old oil spill and blames an oversight from the Nigerian government.

“When it comes to issues of the safety of people and crime, it’s the responsibility of the government. That’s not happening. But you can’t lay it on our doorstep,” said Peter de Wit, director of Shell Netherlands.

Royal Dutch Shell has been forced to defend its record on oil spills and human rights in Nigeria in the face of a barrage of criticism before a panel of Dutch politicians. Shell has been trying to sell up to $4bn of onshore oil assets in Nigeria for more than a year.

At a hearing in The Hague, Wednesday, Shell was bombarded with accusations from Amnesty International and other pressure groups who claim as many as 9m barrels have been spilt in Nigeria  since oil exploration began in the 1950s.

Not only are campaigners angry about alleged oil spills, but also pollution caused by flaring gas from drilling operations into the atmosphere.

Ian Craig, Shell’s director for sub_Saharan Africa, said sabotage by Nigerian militants opposing drilling in the area is responsible for 70pc of oil spills in the troubled Niger Delta region. He said Shell compensates residents for pollution caused by pipeline corrosion or lack of maintenance. However, he said paying for sabotage would “incentivise” attacks.