Shell welcomes 'valuable' report on Nigeria oil spill

4th August 2011, Comments 0 comments

Anglo-Dutch oil giant Shell, which this week admitted responsibility for two devastating spills in the Niger Delta, said Thursday that a landmark UN report on the issue made a "valuable contribution".

Mutiu Sunmonu, managing director of the Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria (SPDC), insisted most spills in Nigeria were caused by sabotage and illegal refining, but said the firm would help with the clean-up.

He was responding to a report by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) which said decades of oil pollution in the Ogoniland region of southern Nigeria may require the world's biggest ever clean-up.

"This report makes a valuable contribution towards improving understanding of the issue of oil spills in Ogoniland," Sunmonu said.

"All oil spills are bad -- bad for local communities, bad for the environment, bad for Nigeria and bad for SPDC."

SPDC, a joint venture operated by Shell, withdrew from Ogoniland in 1993 but a major oil pipeline still carries its oil through the area.

On Wednesday, Shell accepted responsibility for two oil spills in the region in 2008 and 2009.

"Although we haven't produced oil in Ogoniland since 1993, we clean up all spills from our facilities, whatever the cause, and restore the land to its original state," Sunmonu said.

"The majority of oil spills in Nigeria are caused by sabotage, theft and illegal refining.

"We urge the Nigerian authorities to do all they can to curb such activity, and we will continue working with our partners in Nigeria, including the government, to solve these problems and on the next steps to help clean up Ogoniland."

The study of the effects of pollution in Ogoniland, part of the Niger Delta, the country's main oil-producing region, follows a two-year assessment by the UN environmental agency.

Rights group Amnesty International was heavily critical of Shell in its reaction to the report, alleging it had failed to deal with years of oil spills.

© 2011 AFP

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