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Bayelsa communities vow to halt SPDC’s operations over oil spill damages

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•ERA/FoEN frown at firm’s self regulatory posture

Irked by Shell Development and Petroleum Company’s (SPDC) attempt to hijack regulatory control and refusal to pay compensations for an oil spill, which occurred in 2019 in Ikarama Community, Yenagoa Council Area of Bayelsa state, the community has threatened to shut downs its operations.

Aggrieved members of the host community said the incident at Okordia-Rumuekpe Trunk Line owned and operated by the SPDC in November 2019 destroyed their farmlands, rubber plantations, lakes and other means of livelihood.

Speaking at a media briefing in Yenagoa organised by the Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria, (ERA/FoEN), members of the community claimed that Shell abandoned them for over 10 months after the incident.

Specifically, paramount ruler of the community, Chief Herbertson Alfred Lamie, lamented regular spills in their domain and asked SPDC to remediate their impacted environment and pay victims and community for general and specific damages.

He alleged that the oil company had been using divide and rule tactics in the community, adding, “We want Shell to clean up the area and pay the necessary compensations. But if Shell refuses to do the needful, we will not allow them to operate on their manifold.”

Also speaking, Youth President of Ikarama Community, Warder Benjamin, substantiated Lamie’s position, saying the spills in the community were usually caused by corrosion, as some of pipelines had become too old.

In his presentation with the theme: “Resisting Regulatory Capture,” Head, Bayelsa Office of ERA/FoEN, Alagoa Morris, frowned on Shell’s alleged self-regulatory posture.

“As indicated in the theme, this event is unique, as it seems to discourage any attempts at regulatory capture. One of the main areas of disagreements between stakeholders in the oil industry is in cause of spills, as a lot depends on it.

“While there is nothing wrong in any stakeholder contesting the cause of any spill, there are certain things to be considered in determining and declaring the cause.

“In Nigeria, regulators of the oil industry are supposed to be referees. The National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) and state ministries of environment are the regulators.

“But as a grassroots organisation, ERA has been working with several communities over the years and the Ikarama Community is one of them. From our records, Ikarama has the highest frequency of documented oil spills,” he stated.

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