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FG summons SNEPCO chairman over Bonga oil spill

Oil-Spill

The Federal Government has summoned the new managing director of Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company (SNEPCO), Tony Attah, over the lingering crisis on the Bonga oil spill which occurred on December 20, 2011.

According to National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA), about 40,000 barrels of oil spilled into the Atlantic Ocean during the oil exploration from Bonga offshore facility of SNEPCO, which affected the livelihood of 350 coastal communities.

At the meeting, Hadiza Mailafia, the minister of environment, and the SNEPCO managing director, resolved “to set up an in-house team to look into how to assuage all feelings about Bonga oil spill.

“This is the adoption of a multi-stakeholder committee (MSC) to resolve all issues involved in the Bonga oil spill incident,” according to a report obtained by BusinessDay.
Idris Musa, NOSDRA director of assessment, who spoke during the tripartite meeting held at the instance of the House Committee on Environment, noted that “it was established that it (oil spill) was not as a result of third party intervention or sabotage but resulted from equipment failure during the loading on the platform.

“We expected that as at that time some palliative would have been given to the affected communities but nothing has been done,” Musa noted.

Worried by the alleged lackadaisical attitude of SNEPCO towards addressing the problem three years after, the House of Representatives on Tuesday issued a two-week ultimatum to SNEPCO to come out with report on the palliative measures to cushion the effects of the oil spill which eroded the livelihood of thousands of people affected by the Bonga oil spill.

Uche Ekwunife, chairperson, House Committee on Environment, who expressed disgust over the flagrant abuse of the extant environmental laws, directed SNEPCO to forward relevant reports signed by all the parties to the committee on or before October 14, 2014.

“It is surprising that three years after the incident, you have not been able to provide them with any relief materials. The people in the communities where you are getting your income are suffering,” she lamented.

While ruling, Ekwunife directed that SNEPCO should “look at the findings of the joint investigative team and NOSDRA’s recommendations and look at what happened since 2011.

“But if we see that you are reluctant and adamant, we won’t fail to take action as a committee by adopting the recommendations of NOSDRA,” Ekwunife threatened.
Speaking earlier, Simbi Dozie, SNEPCO director, noted that the scheduled stakeholder meeting as agreed on June 11, 2014 could not hold as the company’s managing director insisted on attending the meeting.

One of the representatives of the 315 communities, who called for the intervention of the committee, alleged that the company wanted to frustrate the case by opting for court and eventually regard the case as ‘status barred’.