Chairman, Senate Committee on Environment, Oluremi Tinubu, has lauded the judgment of the Federal High Court delivered by Justice Olatoregun, upholding the $3.6billion fine levied against Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) in respect of the Bonga Oil Spill of 2011.
In December 2011, during Shell’s exploratory activities within OML 118, the company’s vessel at the Bonga Deep Offshore spilled about 40,000 barrels equivalent to 6,400,000 litres of crude oil into the sea.
Consequently, the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) levied the sum of $1.8billion as compensation for damage done to the environment and affected communities. The agency levied another $1.8billion as punitive damages.
But Shell instituted an action, alleging that NOSDRA’s exercise of its enforcement function was in contravention of the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended).
‘’The decision of the court dismissing the suit and upholding the fine is a victory for our environment and the affected communities. Beyond ensuring the remediation of these areas, it will also serve as deterrent to other players in the oil sector,” Tinubu said in a statement. According to her, the judgment would set the trend for punitive measures to International Oil Companies (IOCs) who operate in contravention of the law and evade liability.
The senator representing Lagos Central district called for strengthening of the nation’s institutions, adding that the on-going amendment to the NOSDRA Act, if eventually passed, would better position the agency to defend the integrity of the environment as it affects the oil sector.