NIGERIA has fined Shell $US5 billion ($A4.90 billion) over an oil spill late last year at an offshore field.
Shell was forced to halt operations at the Bonga oilfield in the Gulf of Guinea following the December 20 leak of some 40,000 barrels of crude.
Nigerian authorities levelled the fine on Shell’s local operation, the head of the state-run National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency, Peter Idabor, told a parliamentary hearing.
Idabor said the “administrative penalty” on Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company (SNEPCO) was in line with international industry practice.
But Shell spokesman Tony Okonedo said the fine was unwarranted as the company had acted quickly to contain the spill.
“We do not believe there is any basis in law for such a fine. Neither do we believe that SNEPCO has committed any infraction of Nigerian law to warrant such a fine,” Okonedo told AFP on Tuesday.
“SNEPCO responded to the incident with professionalism and acted with the consent of the necessary authorities at all times to prevent environmental impact as a result of the incident,” he said.
Shell can contest the penalty in court.
An expert on Shell’s operations in Nigeria with rights group Amnesty International, Audrey Gaughran, said the fine was the heftiest ever levelled by the country and applauded the move.
But, she added, it was crucial for Nigeria to specify the justification for the penalty, including whether negligence by Shell led to
Category: West Africa