Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited (SPDC) said on Wednesday it has agreed to pay a £55 million (about N15.3billion) compensation to the Bodo community over two oil spill incidents in the area in 2008.
A spokesperson of the oil company, Precious Okolobo, said the decision to pay the compensation, about the largest in Nigeria’s recent history, was arrived at following a settlement meeting with the affected community.
Mr. Okolobo said the £55 million settlement would take care of the payment of a total of £35 million to individual claimants who would accept the settlement agreement in compensation for losses suffered from the “highly regrettable operational spills in the area.”
He said the remaining £20 million payment would be made for the benefit of the Bodo community generally.
Managing Director of the company, Mutiu Sunmonu, said his management was happy that after a long negotiation, an agreement was finally reached for the compensation to be paid to the affected communities.
“From the outset, we’ve accepted responsibility for the two deeply regrettable operational spills in Bodo,” Mr. Sunmonu said. “We’ve always wanted to compensate the community fairly and we are pleased to have reached agreement.”
He expressed commitment to the process to clean-up the environment, which is being overseen by a former Netherlands’ Ambassador to Nigeria.
Despite delays caused by divisions within the community, Mr. Sunmonu said the clean-up work would soon commence, as plans were in place following an agreement with the community.
He however, bemoaned the negative impact of sabotage of oil facilities in the Niger Delta region, pointing out that unless real action was taken to end the problem and the scourge of oil theft and illegal refining, environmental pollution would remain the real tragedy of the Niger Delta.
According to him, as the problem is allowed to continue, areas and communities that are cleaned up would be impacted again through these illegal activities by vandals.
He said the SPDC has continued to make efforts to educate the people on the issue, while raining awareness with the federal government, international bodies, like the United Nations, the media, civil society and international non-governmental organisations, NGOs, on the negative impact of the problem.
Assuring that SPDC would continue to play an active role in the search for solutions to the crisis in the oil industry and the Niger Delta region, Mr. Sunmonu urge Nigerians, including Bodo community leaders and NGOs, to support this effort.