Dossier Shell in Nigeria

The biggest oil spill on earth

The biggest oil spill on earth

22 december 2011

Do you remember the BP oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico? At least two times more oil has been leaked in Nigeria. A UN report (UNEP, August 2011) revealed that the region is even more severely polluted than we feared. The consequences for local people are immense. As the largest foreign oil corporation in Nigeria, Shell is to a significant degree responsible for this. We therefore ask Shell to clean up the oil, compensate residents and maintain pipelines and installations properly to prevent new leaks.

Oil destroys vulnerable nature

The Niger is the third-largest river in Africa, after the Zaire and the Nile and the Niger Delta region and its mangrove forests is also one of the largest wetland areas in the world. Unfortunately, this superb nature is being destroyed by oil. A black layer of oil covers the many creeks, ponds, mangroves and rivers which characterise the Niger Delta. Furthermore, many of the region’s animals are under threat, including chimpanzees, leopards and elephants.

Residents only experience the burdens, but reap no benefitsKanos uitgebrand

It is distressing to see that so much money is being earned in the oil industry, while area residents have scarcely gained any benefit. Most are dependent on agriculture, fishing/fish farming and gathering snails and other products from the forests. For them, oil pollution means a lack of drinking water, inedible fish, agricultural fields that must lie fallow for years and crops that don’t grow.

A future for the Nigerian farmer

As the largest foreign oil company in Nigeria, Shell bears significant responsibility for the oil pollution. Among others, the UN has found that the multinational has not cleaned up the leaked oil for decades, or has done so insufficiently, and that Shell does not comply with legal environmental standards. Moreover, Shell’s own sustainability report stated that the number of leaks due to poor maintenance doubled in 2011, rising from 32 to 64.

A unique legal case against Shell

In 2008, Milieudefensie (Friends of the Earth Netherlands) instituted legal proceedings jointly with four Nigerian farmers to address the ongoing oil pollution in Nigeria. We want Shell to restore this exceptional nature area with its mangrove forests, creeks, rivers and lakes, to compensate residents and maintain pipelines and installations properly to prevent new leaks.