REBUTTAL OF AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL REPORT ON

“Clean It Up: Shell’s False Claims about Oil Spills Response in the Niger Delta''

The Amnesty International on November 3, 2015 called a press conference at the Shehu Musa Yar’Adua Centre, Abuja where it presented a report on the above caption. In the report, Amnesty International made some baseless, uncouth and unbecoming claims that are ascribed to an international non-governmental organization of its type. The representatives of the organization in Nigeria appeared to be out of focus and uninformed about the area they tried to discredit both in respect of the operations and regulatory functions of the Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited and the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency respectively. Amnesty International claimed to be in the field but could not specify the co-ordinates of the places it claimed to have inspected, neither did it cross check its imaginary statements with the relevant institutions before rushing to the press.  It therefore becomes glaring that, all the Amnesty International representatives in Nigeria is interested in is to justify the pittance they collect from unsuspecting international  donor agencies by peddling lies about Nigeria and government agencies. Amnesty International representatives in Nigeria have never shown that, there are other operating oil companies in Nigeria that NOSDRA regulates, as well as monitor and certify their remediated oil impacted sites. Similarly, Amnesty International has never condemned in any manner, oil theft, illegal oil refining, holding of oil industry operators and regulators hostages in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria..

In the report presented by Amnesty International, some accusations were made against the Agency as follows:.

NOSDRA lacks funding meaning that the Agency has no proactive capacity for oil spill detection and therefore depends on reports from oil companies;.

The assertion that the Agency is insufficiently funded is correct. However, the little funding level that the Agency has is judiciously managed to meet up with some of the Agency’s mandate. The staff of the Agency make a lot of sacrifices to ensure that the responsibilities before them are carried out. The normal duty tour allowances due to them are recorded and paid for whenever fund is available. Notwithstanding, the Agency had at various times organised consultative fora where host communities were tutored on  the dangers associated with oil spills as well as how to report such spills to the Agency’s nearest zonal office..

NOSDRA lacks the capacity and expertise to properly monitor the hundreds of oil spills every year across the Niger Delta:

NOSDRA does not lack capacity at all in the area of human resources. There are officers on ground to cover the mandate given to us by law. We have not had any cause not to send officers to the field on account of insufficient staffing. All operating oil companies in Nigeria can attest to this statement of fact. The breakdown of our technical staff is given as follows:

        Engineers in Different Calling   98

        Environmental Scientists        449

With a staff strength of 547 senior technical officers in the Agency, and cutting across the Zonal Offices of the Agency, the assertion of the Nigerian Amnesty International Staff on lack of capacity in terms of staff is a figment of their imagination. It also underscores the fact that, the so called research it carries out is nothing but cut and paste research done in the corners of their office.  

NOSDRA have very little reactive capacity and therefore cannot send a staff to a spill location due to lack of vehicle, no access to boats and helicopters:

   There is a need for outfits such as the Amnesty International that is supposed to have high reputation to report issues without bias to be in depth in knowledge, as well as fully understand the peculiarity of wherever it covers on assignment. Noting that oil spill is ordinarily supposed to be an accident expected to occur rarely, the reverse is the case in the Niger Delta region in Nigeria. Oil spill is a routine incident that occupies the Agency on a daily basis. The Agency has at least two functional 4-wheeled drive vehicles in each Zonal Office. Besides, if there is a spill, the owners of the facility must be put on notice and on board in order to gain unfettered access to such spill site. Furthermore, the incessant oil theft in the region coupled with the impersonation of security operatives under cover to steal oil makes independent visit difficult; so that there will not be any mistaken identity issue. Obviously, no government  official at any tier of government operate helicopters on routine basis to both swamp areas and offshore operations except the oil companies. Not even the Amnesty International Nigerian staff has the capacity to do so notwithstanding its claim of independence.

NOSDRA sends unqualified staff for oil spill investigation or remediation due to shortage of senior or experienced staff who understand the oil industry:

The Agency’s earlier response on staffing suffices on this issue.

Research by Amnesty International and CEHRD in 2013 showed that NOSDRA is unable to carry out rigorous and independent investigations:

  This assertion to say the least is ridiculous and unbecoming of an outfit like Amnesty International. When did it become an order for Agencies of Government to report to Non-Governmental Organisations ? It is advisable that this outfit should review its contempt, biased and inciting reporting on Nigerian government and its Agencies.

Oil Companies determine when Oil Spill Investigations should be done via a text message or a letter:

This allegation is unfounded. Was it oil companies that determined the various sanctions given to some of them including the Amnesty International usual target of and biased reporting on an oil company? Was it oil companies that determined those of them that were sued in the law courts to which NOSDRA got judgement against? The Agency had sanctioned the following oil companies in the past:- Shell Petroleum Development Company, Nigerian Agip Oil Company, Pipelines and Products Marketing Company, Sterling Oil and Energy Exploration Company, and Mobil Oil Producing Nigeria Unlimited. Both Pipelines and Products Marketing Company as well as Sterling Oil and Energy Exploration Production Company were sued in court and judgement was in favour of NOSDRA.

NOSDRA does not reply to Amnesty International letters requesting information:

All correspondences from Amnesty International were replied to and even scanned into its official electronic mail address. Finally, the Agency has observed that Amnesty International either by commission or omission has failed to consider the continuing pollution or re-pollution currently ongoing in Ogoniland as a result of the activities of pipeline vandals and artisanal refineries. Concerted attempts must be made by A.I to ensure that these activities are minimised if they truly have unbiased intentions with reference to the clean-up of Ogoniland.  

3.0   CASE STUDIES HIGHLIGHTED IN THE REPORT

The Bomu Manifold, Kegbara Dere

Massive fire and spill on 12th April, 2009

Certified by Government on 1st February, 2012

Another spill occurred on 19th April, 2012

Clean-up completed in April 2012, according to Shell

Contamination and continued remediation was observed in August and September, 2015

Barabeedom, K.Dere

Contamination from the Bomu Manifold spill of 12th April, 2009 spread to Barabeedom swamp

A spill of 144.6 barrels occurred on 11th March, 2011

Shell said the clean-up was completed in 13th July, 2011

NOSDRA certified the site in September 2014

Contamination was observed in August and September, 2015

Okuluebu, Ogale

An unknown quantity of spill occurred on 19th June, 2009

Another spill of 25 barrels occurred on 9th November, 2011

NOSDRA certified the site on 24th January, 2012

A spill of just over 1 barrel was reported on 11th February, 2012

NOSDRA certified the site on 21st December, 2012

Oil spill at multiple locations were observed in August, 2015

Boobanabe, Bomu Well 11K.Dere

Fire and spill occurred at Bomu Well 11 in 1970

Shell claimed to have remediated it in 1975

Massive contamination observed by UNEP in 2010

In July, 2012, Shell responded to UNEP report stating that the site has been remediated

Contamination observed on the site in August, 2015

4.     NOSDRA RECORD OF THE CASE STUDIES HIGHLIGHTED IN THE REPORT

The Bomu Manifold, KegbaraDere

2 sites affected by the fire and spill on 12th April, 2009

Both certified on 13th March, 2014 (Certificate No: NOSDRA/RS/003835 and NOSDRA/RS/003836). Post Clean-up Inspection forms available; contrary to the claim of Amnesty International that they were certified in 2012.  

Barabeedom, K.Dere

Contamination from the Bomu Manifold spill of 12th April, 2009 spread to Barabeedom swamp

Certified on 11th February, 2013 (Certificate No: NOSDRA/RS/000975); contrary to the claim of Amnesty International that the site was certified in 2014.

Okuluebu, Ogale

No record of spill on 19th June, 2009

Spill (24.88 barrels) occurred on 9th November, 2011 at 6" Obigbo North - Ogale Delivery line at Ogale. Cause of spill: crude oil theft

Remediation was carried out using RENA, completed in September, 2012

Certified on 13th March, 2014 (Certificate No: NOSDRA/RS/003985). Post Clean-up Inspection form available; contrary to the claim of Amnesty International that the site was certified in December 2012.

Spill (1.2 barrels) occurred on 10th February, 2012 at 6" Obigbo North - Ogale Delivery line at Kom-kom. Cause of spill: crude oil theft

Boobanabe, Bomu Well 11 K.Dere

Legacy site, Certified on 28th February, 2012. Post Clean-up Inspection form available.

Although one of the challenges to the achievement of the mandate of the Agency is paucity of funds, NOSDRA has put in place some tools to facilitate the monitoring of oil spill response activities throughout the country. Some of these include:

the Agency's vessel "Recovery 1" for oil spill response – this vessel is equipped with skimmer, booms, and other materials for prompt response to an oil spill incident. Efforts are underway to procure more response equipment;

the oil spill reporting procedures requires that all notifications of oil spill are made to the Agency within 24 hours - Joint Investigation Visits (JIV) to an impacted site is made at the instance of NOSDRA. In addition, all clean-up and remediation methods are approved by NOSDRA prior to commencement and these activities are monitored by the Zonal Offices throughout the clean-up/remediation exercise. Prior to certification, sample are collected and analysed to ascertain the level of contaminants in the samples taken. It is worthy to note that besides the samples analysed by the Company, NOSDRA also undertakes its own independent sample analysis, to ensure transparency in the process. All laboratories engaged in the sample analysis are duly accredited by NOSDRA;

All NOSDRA Zonal Offices are equipped with 4x4 WD vehicles to monitor field activities;

the Nigerian Oil Spill Monitor is an online database for maintaining the records of all oil spill in the country;

NOSDRA staff have been trained on several oil spill response and related courses such as: Shoreline Clean-up Assessment Technique (SCAT), Basic Oil Spill Response, Basic Health, Safety and Environment (HSE), Basic Offshore Safety Induction and Emergency Training (BOSIET). Training is a continuous process, and many more staff of the Agency are still being trained in relevant courses;

The NOSDRA Amendment Bill is expected to strengthen the Agency’s capacity as well as enforcement powers to ensure that the environment is protected to the best extent possible.

The Agency referred Amnesty International to its website for information and also invited Amnesty International for a meeting on 29th October, 2015, however, it was unable to attend the meeting .All information on oil spill clean-up and remediation are available on the Oil Spill Monitor website to whoever requests for it;

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The delay in the implementation of the recommendations of the UNEP Report is not deliberate. It is pertinent to note the conditions prescribed by UNEP to ensure the successful remediation and restoration of Ogoniland, as follows:

Adequate safety and security should be provided in Ogoniland;

All sources of on-going contamination must be brought to an end before the clean-up of the creeks, sediments and mangroves can begin; and

A campaign to bring to an end illegal oil-related activities (stealing from oil wells/pipelines, illegal refining) should be conducted across Ogoni land. The campaign should be a joint initiative between the Government of Nigeria, the oil companies, Rivers State and local community authorities, and should include an awareness component highlighting the disproportionate environmental footprint (borne by all sections of the community) of artisanal refining in relation to the marginal benefits derived.