Fishermen’s group seeks govt’s pressure on Shell to pay $3.6bn oil spill fine

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The Artisan Fishermen Association of Nigeria (ARFAN) is seeking the intervention of the Nigerian government in getting Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company to pay a fine of $3.6 billion levied on it by an industry regulator for a spill in Bonga oilfield in 2011

Samuel Ayade, coordinator of the fishermen group, made the demand in Yenagoa on Friday, saying fishermen had been grappling with severe difficulties in fishing in polluted waters since a leak during a transfer of oil into a tanker at the Bonga offshore field operated by Shell in 2011, causing 40,000 barrels of oil to spill into the waters.

The settlement of the fine has been outstanding for over eight years now, with a Shell spokesperson saying in 2012 that everything was done to forestall damage to the environment and there was no justification for the penalty in the first place.

A compensation for hazards on natural resources and loss of income by communities affected will take $1.8 billion of the fine. The other half will serve as punitive damage for Shell’s action.

Shell initiated a lawsuit in 2018, challenging the regulator’s decision on the $3.6 billion fine but Justice Mojisola Olatoregun of a Federal High Court in Lagos dismissed the case.

Meanwhile, the Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria has said energy firm Conoil Plc had not taken actions in reaction to an oil spill incident at its facility around Akassa Kingdom environment in the Bayelsa State, four months after the occurrence.

The advocacy group disclosed in a report endorsed by Alagoa Morris, its head of Niger Delta resource centre, that the leakage which occurred at the Otuo Field Well 13 last September was yet to cease, with oil said to still be spreading around Akassa communities on the borders of the Atlantic Ocean.

The chairman of United Fishing Union of Sangana, Ikonikumo Noel, noted in the document that the mishap killed a myriad of fishes and other aquatic creatures, adding that a number of them was washed ashore in the process.

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