Shell Says Cannot Take Sole Blame For Nigeria Spills

Source: THEWILL. -
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A Royal Dutch Shell executive said on Wednesday the company could not be held solely responsible for damage to the environment caused by oil extraction in the Niger Delta where it operates.

Ian Craig, head of Shell Exploration & Production for Sub-Saharan Africa, also told a hearing in the Dutch parliament that Shell has no plans to pull out of Nigeria.

The parliamentary hearing was held as part of an examination into whether Shell is responsible for environmental damage caused by its operations in Nigeria, the world's eighth largest oil exporter. Shell is part of the SPDC joint venture in the Niger Delta.

"We do bear some responsibility, but we cannot bear it entirely," Craig told parliament. He said that about 70 percent of oil spills were caused by sabotage while the remainder could be blamed on SPDC.

Oil companies active in Nigeria have grappled with militant sabotage activities in recent years which have hit production.

When asked if Shell would pull out of Nigeria, Craig said: "I don't see any scenarios seeing Shell exiting."

Shell has a 30 percent stake in the SPDC joint venture: the state-run Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) holds 55 percent, Total 10 percent and Agip 5 percent.

Amnesty International and Friends of the Earth International said on Tuesday they filed an official complaint against Shell for breaches of basic standards for responsible business set out by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

Remote, poor communities in the Niger Delta have suffered decades of pollution from spills that have been left to fester, damaging the air, soil and water.

Royalty payments from oil firms and the sharing of federal oil revenues mean state governments in the Niger Delta have larger budgets than many West African nations, but endemic corruption has meant that little development has been achieved.