Right advocate and socially-relevant non-governmental organisation, Spaces for Change, has kicked against the attempt by Oil Majors to blame spillages from its activities on saboteurs.
The group was protesting the spillages from Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) and Chevron on some communities in Bayelsa and Delta States.
SPDC had announced that the spillages were the handiwork of saboteurs.
But Space for Change wants the Oil majors to take responsibility for all damages rather than “it’s imaginary blames”.
In a statement, Spaces for Change executive director, Victoria Ibezim-Ohaeri said SPDC should not be allowed to evade liability with its ‘sabotage theory’ which claims that the spills were caused by saboteurs.
“SPDC must be made to take liability” The group noted.
Part of the statement reads;
“Spaces for Change condemns the reported oil spillages at Shell Petroleum Development Plc (SPDC) facility at Agbura-Otuokpoti community, Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, and another spillage at the Chevron Abiteye flow station located in Benikrukru community in Warri South-West Local Government Area, Delta State. The recent spillages in Delta State, which have affected over fifteen (15) communities, some of which are Benikrukru, Ekiagbene, Abiteye, Omadino, BaterenDeghele, Otunana, Makaraba, and other neighbouring communities, have resulted in thick crude oil slick flowing at a high speed and spreading to the nearby communities. Locals are living in constant fear of a fire outbreak in addition to other devastating effects of the spillages on their communities.
“The Joint Investigating Team consisting of officials of SPDC, National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA), security agencies, Bayelsa State Government, and community representatives eventually visited the SPDC facility in the Agbura-Otuokpoti community and was able to contain the spillages to prevent further spread. However, while the investigation was ongoing to determine the cause and impact of the spillages, SPDC announced that there was an anonymous note found at the spill site, thereby suggesting sabotage’.
The release noted further that “Out of the twenty-three (23) oil spillages reported by SPDC from January to March 2021 across the Niger Delta region, 20 of them were attributed to sabotage, while only 3 were reportedly caused by operational failures.
“Attributing spillages to ‘sabotage’ has become a major tactic oil companies employ to shield themselves from culpability when oil spillages occur in host communities. This current tactic employed by oil companies shows their insensitivity and abandonment of the legal duty of care owed to citizens living in these affected communities, especially the misfortune and economic hardships these companies have brought upon them as a result of their negligence. Residents of these communities have described the spillages as life-threatening and noted that their sources of livelihood have been destroyed by these constant spillages. More so, most of the damage resulting from these spillages like poisoning of waters, destruction of agricultural produce and livestock, are irreversible and cause untold hardships for residents of these communities.
“The current situation at Benikrukru Community in Warri South-West Local Government Area of Delta state hosting the Chevron Abiteye flow station is even worse. Even though the spillages have been occurring at the station for over two (2) months now, no investigation or visit has been conducted by the Joint Investigating Team while Chevron is denying the oil spill in Abiteye and Utonana fields including the 16” Makaraba-Utonana-Abiteye Right of Way (ROW). This has resulted in the discharge of large volumes of crude oil into the community river, resulting in pollution of the major source of water serving the community. This trend of evading corporate responsibility by major oil companies will only lead to helplessness and even outrage on the part of residents which could threaten the fragile peace being experienced in the region.
“SPACES FOR CHANGE calls on the Federal Government and the oil companies operating in the region to ensure that these spill sites are remediated immediately without further delay. Oil majors must be mandated to deploy safety measures to mitigate the effects of spillages on “these communities. Accordingly, affected communities must be provided with emergency relief materials as a matter of urgency. The Federal Government must take further steps to ensure that investigations of spillages are open, fair and without undue interference from oil companies,”.