Shell has wrongly reported the cause of oil spills in the Niger Delta
Shell has manipulated oil spill investigations in Nigeria, with the company’s claims on oil pollution in the region deeply suspect and often untrue, said Amnesty International and the Centre for Environment, Human Rights and Development (CEHRD).
A new report published today uncovers specific cases in which Shell has wrongly reported the cause of oil spills, the volume of oil spilt, or the extent and adequacy of clean up measures.
“Shell is being disingenuous about the devastation caused by its Niger Delta operations. This new evidence shows that Shell’s claims about the oil spills cannot be trusted,” said Audrey Gaughran, Director of Global Issues at Amnesty International.
New analysis from an independent expert found that so-called official investigation reports into the cause of oil spills in the Niger Delta can be “very subjective, misleading and downright false.”
The report highlights systemic weaknesses in the way the cause of a spill and the volume are determined – with some significant errors in the volumes that are recorded as spilt.
The consequences for the affected communities are devastating and can result in them receiving little or no compensation.
The oil companies do not have to back up the claims with full and independent evidence. The evidence that does exist remains firmly under their control.
“Shell looks to blame others based on investigation reports that, in some cases, amount to nothing more than dodgy dossiers,” said Styvn Obodoekwe, Director of Programmes at CEHRD.
At Amnesty International and CEHRD’s request, the independent US oil pipeline specialist Accufacts assessed a number of oil spill investigation reports, as well as responses from oil companies operating in the Niger Delta and Nigeria’s national oil spill agency.
The expert found cases where the stated cause of an oil spill appears to be wrongly attributed to sabotage. In many other cases sabotage was listed as the cause when there was little or no data recorded to back up the claim.
Overall, Accufacts concluded that many official investigation reports were “technically incomplete”, and others “appear to be serving another agenda, more driven by politics…than pipeline forensic science”.