Court documents expose Shell’s false claims on Nigeria oil spills
Court documents revealed by Amnesty International expose the fact that Shell has repeatedly made false claims about the size and impact of two major oil spills at Bodo in Nigeria in an attempt to minimize its compensation payments. The documents also show that Shell has known for years that its pipelines in the Niger Delta were old and faulty.
The potential repercussions are that hundreds of thousands of people may have been denied or underpaid compensation based on similar underestimates of other spills.
The irrefutable evidence that Shell underestimated the Bodo spills emerged in a UK legal action brought by 15,000 people whose livelihoods were devastated by oil pollution in 2008. The court action has forced Shell to finally admit the company has underplayed the true magnitude of at least two spills and the extent of damage caused.
“Amnesty International firmly believes Shell knew the Bodo data were wrong. If it did not it was scandalously negligent – we repeatedly gave them evidence showing they had dramatically underestimated the spills,” said Audrey Gaughran, Director for Global Issues at Amnesty International.
“Shell has refused to engage with us and only now that they find themselves in a UK court have they been forced to come clean.”
Shell’s joint investigation report for the first oil spill in the Bodo area of the Niger Delta claims only 1,640 barrels of oil were spilt in total. However, based on an independent assessment published by US firm Accufacts Inc., Amnesty International calculated the total amount of oil spilt exceeded 100,000 barrels. Shell denied this and repeatedly defended its far lower figure.
In the court documents Shell admits its figure is wrong in both this case and a second spill, also in 2008, in the same area. The admission throws Shell’s assessment of hundreds of other Nigeria spills into doubt, as all spill investigations are conducted in the same manner.
“For years Shell has dictated the assessment of volume spilled and damage caused in spill investigation reports, now these reports aren’t worth the paper they’re written on,”said Audrey Gaughran.
“These spill investigation reports have cheated whole communities out of proper compensation.”
Source: Amnesty International