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Daily Independent (Nigeria): Shell Laments Blockade To Ogoni Spill Sites

Shell Laments Blockade To Ogoni Spill Sites

By Odudu Okpongete

Senior Correspondent,

Port Harcourt 

Oil multinational, Shell, has lamented inability to access its facilities located in Ogoniland, Rivers State, to clean up the March 24, 2006 spill in its Bomu Well-2, claiming that its workers on inspection were attacked by community youths.

The company also denied allegations that it ordered the manhandling of two youths of Ban-Ogoi, who reportedly escorted foreign journalists and human rights activists to a controversial power plant site constructed by it as alleged by the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP).

In a statement attributed to its management at the weekend and made available to our reporter online, Shell claimed that 13 members of a team that went on inspection of wells to assess their integrity preparatory to securing them were attacked by community youths last Thursday.

“Their vehicles and equipment were seized and they were detained,” the company alleged, describing the action as contrary to an appeal made by the state governor, Dr Peter Odili, during a visit to the spill site that the youths allow the company access to the area to enable speedy clean-up to begin.

Shell attributed the frequent spills in the area to its forceful exit from Ogoniland in 1993 without the opportunity to secure and make safe its wells and other facilities, regretting that its inability to gain access to such sites was dangerous to the existence of the communities and its people.

“Since then, continuing sabotage and deterioration of facilities have caused a number of crude oil spills and fire incidents, putting communities and the people at risk,” the company noted, adding “SPDC has been seeking access from Ogoni leaders to return to the area to secure these facilities and clean up the spills and the environment, but without success.”

On the power plant, which MOSOP alleged the company constructed in the area in disregard of the existing reconciliation process, the company said no component of the Afam Power Project was located in Ban-Ogoi as claimed.

Shell said it abandoned the acquisition of an additional parcel of land in the community after it was wrongly accused of undermining the Federal Government-initiated reconciliation process in Ogoni land.

It also said its N5 million cheque handed over to the Gokana Council chairman to assist victims of the oil spill was a humanitarian gesture pending the outcome of investigations into the matter.

In a statement last week, MOSOP accused Shell of not taking comprehensive measures to assist victims of the Bomu Well-2 oil spill and sponsoring the attack on youths of Ban-Ogoi community.

But the firm had denied any complicity in the alleged attack on Ban-Ogoi community youths by security men at the Afam Power Project site, saying that it however, received a report that two foreign journalists on April 10 gained access to the site by claiming to be workers of Stemco, the road works subcontractor.

Shell therefore appealed to Ogoni youths and elders to allow it gain access to all its oil facilities in the area to enable it secure them so as to prevent further disaster.

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