Oil Spill in Nigeria to Cost US$12 Billion

A new report has warned that Nigeria will need US$12 billion over 12 years to clean up the environmental damage caused by oil and gas spills in the southern Bayelsa State. The Bayelsa State Oil and Environmental Commission report, which reflects the findings of an investigation starting in 2019, noted there are toxic pollutants from spills and gas flaring in higher concentrations than safe limits in samples of soil, water, air, and the blood of local residents, adding that there have been “failures of strategy, prevention, response and remediation by oil companies”. Lawyers at Leigh Day have welcomed the report, noting that it has been published ahead of Bayelsa State’s court hearing challenging oil and gas major Shell over oil pollution in the Bodo Community. On 23 May, the same day as Shell’s annual general meeting (AGM), the High Court will hear an application by the Bodo Community in Nigeria to proceed with their claim for a trial on cleaning up on oil spills from Shell pipelines in 2008. Shell has claimed it has almost completed the clean-up, but the community is concerned significant levels of pollution continue to affect the Bodo environment. Matthew Renshaw, Partner at Leigh Day, said: “The report shines further light on the horrific consequences of the prioritisation of profit by international oil companies such as Shell, over the safety of local populations and protection of the environment in the Niger Delta. It is particularly timely given that Shell appears to be intending to exit the Niger Delta leaving a legacy of pollution across the region.” Leigh Day Partner Daniel Leader added that this should be an opportunity for Shell to work with the community to reassure them that the clean-up meets international standards. “Instead, Shell’s response is to seek to extinguish the community’s legal right to clean-up,” he said.  

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