We reproduce another round of correspondence between Shell Nigeria Exploration and production company(SNEPCO) and the Nigerian maritime Administration and safety Agency.(NIMASA)
10th September, 2012
The Managing Director
Shell Exploration & production Company
21/22 Marina Lagos.
We write with respect to the oil spill incident of 20th December 2011 which occurred at Bonga FPSO facility operated by the Shell Exploration and production company.
As you are aware, the Nigerian Maritime Administration and safety Agency as the Nation’s apex regulatory Authority is the focal point for international maritime organization(IMO) matters as well as the implementing Agency for relevant international maritime conventions and protocols relating to safety and security of the maritime environment.
Our attention has been drawn to the aforementioned oil spill incident by the National Oil spill Detection and response Agency(NOSDRA) via a letter dated 21st December 2011.
The Agency has since been further inundated with letters of complaints from over 100 coastal communities of Bayelsa and Delta states regarding the adverse impact of the spill on their communities. We are also aware that SNEPCO has since admitted liability for the incident and subsequently approximated that about 40,000 Barrels of oil was spilled into the Maritime environment.
As part of our efforts in this regard, the Agency constituted a team of multi- disciplinary personnel consisting of all in-house technical committee, external environmental consultants and solicitors to determine the extent of environmental degradation caused by the incident and critically examined the claims of the affected communities with a view to making adequate compensation.
The team has submitted its report, revealing severe devastation of the Marine Ecosystem ranging from water pollution, decline in fishing businesses, exposure to grave and life threatening diseases outbreaks and distortion of socio-economic life of the affected communities.
Please be informed that following the above initial examination of the incident, we have assessed the immediate and consequential damage caused by the incident at USD 6.5 billion.
Consequently and in line with international principle of polluter pays, the Agency wishes to request the SNEPCO to take urgent steps to-:
(1) Immediately undertake remediation operations in all affected coastal communities in order to forestall further degradation; and
(2) Make adequate monetary compensation thereof to a sum not less than the assessed amount of USD 6.5 billion in the first instance; pending the out come of the post impact Assessment(PIA) to the affected areas.
We further implore you to kindly employ international best practices and standards during the operations and to take further necessary steps to safeguard the Nigerian marine environment from further occurrences.
Please keep us abreast of actions and developments in this regard.
cc:The chairman
House committee on Environment.
The Director-General/CEO
Nigerian Maritime Administration and safety Agency(NIMASA)
Maritime House4 Burma Road Apapa
19th September 2012
Your ref: NIMASA/MEM/PC/370/1.
Our ref: SNEPCO-MDR-2012-0308L
Dear sir,
Re: Shell Nigeria Exploration And Production Company Limited(SNEPCO) Bonga Oil Spill of 20th Dec.2011.
We acknowledge receipt of your letter dated 10th September 2012, which we received on the 13th of September 2012, on the above subject.
As you are aware, the spill from the Bonga facility was effectively contained and cleaned-up by a concerted and extensive clean-up effort involving people and industry resources from within and outside Nigeria, coupled with the effects of natural dispersion and evaporation.
As part of the clean- up effort, daily over- flights were conducted to monitor the spill trajectory and guide the clean-up operations.
On the 24th of December, 2011 at about the time that we were concluding our clean-up of the Bonga spill, we noticed a trail of oil about one hundred kilometers from Bonga.
Despite our strong believe that this oil was from the Bonga facility, as a responsible corporate citizen, we immediately took steps to try to contain and clean-up the mystery spill. Despite the clean-up efforts, it appears that small quantities of this mystery spill may have reached parts of the shoreline around the area where it was first sighted.
Working with regulators, we identified the communities impacted by the mystery spill and conducted Joint investigation Visits(JIV) together with the regulatory agencies.
In addition, we have cleaned up those parts of the shoreline, within the communities that were impacted by the mystery spill, except for one community that is yet to allow us access for further verification and clean-up as may be necessary.
SNEPCO’S response to the Bonga spill was done promptly and with the consent of the necessary authorities at all times to prevent environmental impact as a result of the incident.
Consequently, with respect to your demand, we do not believe there is any basis in law for the $6.5 Billion assessed as monetary compensation from NIMASA, neither do we believe that we have committed any infraction of any applicable laws to support such demand from NIMASA.
We continue to work with the relevant agencies, and the OML 118 lease holder, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation to agree the terms of reference and scope of the impact assessment study(PIA) to enable us undertake the PIA which study will provide conclusive and empirical evidence of the impact if any, of the Bonga spill on the environment.
We thank you for your understanding and cooperation.
Yours faithfully
Chike Onyejekwe
Shell Exploration and Production Company
Managing Director
This Series is from the stable of the Oil spills victims vanguard a non- governmental organization(NGO) incorporated with the corporate affairs commission, OSPIVV is an initiative whose main object is dedicated to fight for compensation for victims of oil spills health hazards of gas flaring, transparency and accountability in the Extractive industries in Nigeria.
HARRISON JALLA is an Executive Director OSPIVV

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