17th May, 2023
By Nathan Nwakamma
Major oil firms operating oilfields in Bayelsa have faulted claims by the Bayelsa Oil and Environmental Commission (BSOEC) in its final report presented to Governor Douye Diri at the House of Lords on Tuesday in London.
Reacting to the alleged complicity and responsibility for the widespread pollution, Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria (SPDC) on Wednesday said it operates in an environmentally sustainable manner.
Mrs. Bola Essien-Nelson, SPDC’s Media Relations Manager, attributed the majority of the pollution within its operations to vandalism and oil theft.
The report, titled “An Environmental Genocide: Counting the Human Cost of Oil in Bayelsa, Nigeria,” captured over 60 years of oil exploration and pollution.
The BSOEC, established in March 2019 by the immediate past administration led by Sen. Seriake Dickson, said abnormally high concentrations of toxic heavy metals were found in soil and waters in Bayelsa oil communities.
The report, which attributed the massive pollution to the activities of oil and gas exploration and production by oil firms, recommended a remediation fund of 12 billion dollars over a 12-year period.
Shell, Agip, and Chevron operate oilfields in the areas covered by the report.
“SPDC operates to the same technical standards as other Shell companies globally. Illegal actions by third parties cause the vast majority of oil spills in the Niger Delta, such as crude oil theft and sabotage.
“However, regardless of the cause, the joint venture responds quickly to clean up when spills originate from its facilities.
“Our teams continue to collaborate with the Nigerian government and other stakeholders with the aim of eradicating crude theft from our facilities.
“We try to stop criminal actions happening in the first place, putting steel cages around some well heads, and using helicopters to monitor for attacks on pipelines.
“Shell companies in Nigeria also bring jobs, support local supply chains and invest in the education and healthcare people rely on, as well as providing billions of dollars in income to the Nigerian government,” the SPDC sais.
On its part, Nigerian Agip Oil Company (NAOC) in a statement by management of its parent company, Eni distanced itself from the allegations of being behind pollution across its assets in Bayelsa.
“We do not attribute any value to a report for which we have not been consulted, and made by a commission that, despite its name, does not have any institutional character.
“In Nigeria, over the last 10 years, almost the whole of hydrocarbon spills are due to so-called third-party interference, which specifically means oil theft to feed illegal refineries as well as illegal exports and sabotages.
“The company undertakes to remedy in all cases, both when spills are both operational and due to theft or sabotage.
”The trend of spills in the region decreased over the last few years also thanks to the important interventions carried out by Eni to guarantee the asset integrity, among other things,” Eni stated.
The company said that about 97 per cent of associated gas produced by NAOC is procesed either as Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) or to feed local power plants.
It said that gas from NAOC feeds Okpai power plant, included in the “United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change’s Clean Development Mechanisms (CDM).
Eni said its gas gathering effort is noted for its contribution to the reduction of flaring.
“Okpai produced approximately 2,000 GWh electricity in 2022, so providing to represent an important access to energy instrument for local communities.
“Eni conducts its activities according to the sector’s international environmental best practices, without any distinction on a country basis.
”There is nothing further from our corporate culture than allegation of environmental racism,” the company said.
Howverm Chevron Nigeria Limited declined to comment to NAN. (NAN