Shell agrees to clean up 2008 Nigerian oil spill

Anglo-Dutch oil and gas giant Royal Dutch Shell has agreed to begin cleaning up of two devastating oil spills in 2008 in the Niger Delta, according to locals and activists of the area.
A local inhabitant shows the extent of damage caused by the Shell oil spill  
''Shell officials met with representatives of Bodo community in Port Harcourt yesterday. The meeting was attended by officials of the Dutch embassy, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), Amnesty International and some local activists,'' Steven Obodekwe, an official of the environment and human rights group, said.

''It was agreed that the cleanup would commence in July or August,'' he said.

The 2008 oil spills happened in the Rivers state of Nigeria causing severe damage to the local environment affecting the livelihoods of over 15,600 people, predominantly fishermen and farmers there.

The Bodo community filed a lawsuit against the oil giant three years ago in London and in last June, a UK judge ruled that Shell was liable to provide certain security measures to protect pipelines in Nigeria after the two devastating oil spills.

After prolonged negotiations, in January, Shell and the affected local community of the Niger Delta agreed for a £55-million ($83-million) out-of-court settlement of the 2008 oil spills. The amount was well below the Bodo community's original demand of over £300 million.

Although tiny compared with the billions in compensation for oil giant BP Plc's Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010, the settlement was the largest ever out-of- court agreement related to oil spills in Nigeria.

Claimants said that oil spillage from two pipelines amounted 500,000 barrels of oil, while Shell initially estimated the volume at about 4,000 barrels. The oil giant later admitted that the total spills were larger than anticipated but did not come out with a final figure.

The deal involved payment of £35 million in compensation directly to community members, each individual getting about 600,000 Nigerian naira ($3,249), and the balance £20 million for the overall community development.

The claims have been mostly settled, according to a local fisherman.

Shell officials were not immediately available for comment on the development.

Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria (SDPC) is one of the leading oil companies in Nigeria, Africa's biggest crude producing nation.

The company produces oil and gas from land and swamps in the Niger Delta and from offshore. The company also operates the country's largest liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant.

Oil spills are a common event in Nigeria, with about half of them occurring due to pipeline and tanker accidents and 28 per cent due to sabotage and 22 per cent related to production. Oil companies insist that oil pollution in Niger Delta region is mostly caused by vandalism, sabotage, theft and illegal refining.