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• Says oil firm’s reports manipulated and misleading
Festus Akanbi with agency reports
Contrary to the claims of Shell Petroleum that the terrible tragedy of oil pollution in the Niger Delta was due to growing oil theft in the area, a report by Amnesty International has blamed the development on the corrosion and other faults in aging pipelines of the oil companies in the area.
Amnesty International, therefore, accused Shell of manipulating oil spill investigations and documents, saying the company has wrongly reported on the cause and volume of pollution devastating the Niger Delta and made false claims about cleanup measures.
The future of farmers and fishermen whose livelihoods are destroyed by such spills depends on reports that can be "very subjective, misleading and downright false,"
according to an independent U.S. industry expert hired by Amnesty International to review documents newly obtained under the Freedom of Information law.
The Amnesty report offers detailed analysis to back longstanding charges that oil companies blame sabotage for spills sometimes caused by corrosion and other faults in aging pipelines. Sabotage or oil theft means a community is not eligible for compensation.
Associated Press quoted Shell Nigeria as saying it "firmly rejects (the) unsubstantiated assertions" and seeks "greater transparency and independent oversight" in reporting oil spills.
"Solutions to the terrible tragedy of oil pollution in the Niger Delta need to be found," said a statement provided in response to the report. Shell was the first company to start producing oil in the delta, in 1958.
Shell repeated assertions that most spills are caused by growing theft that experts estimate at between 100,000 and 200,000 barrels of oil a day.
The report, in collaboration with the Centre for Environment, Human Rights and Development, sheds new light on one of the worst environmental disasters in Nigeria, a 2008 spill that affected about 30,000 people in the delta's Bodo creek area and is the subject of a lawsuit in Britain.