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allAfrica.com: Nigeria: Shell Promises Relief for Community

Daily Champion (Lagos)
6 September 2007
Dennis Udoma
Uyo

OFFICIALS of Dutch Shell Tuesday, led a Joint Investigation Team to communities ravaged by oil spill in Akwa Ibom State and promised to tackle all environmental problems already impacting negatively on host communities and people of the state.

This followed recent claims by the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) that the marginal oil bloc at Ikot Ada Udo, Ikot Abasi local government area of the state was allocated to Monopolu Oil Limited.
 
It would be recalled that the company had earlier snubbed Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly’s invitation to explain its exploitative activities and poor handling of environmental problems arising from abandoned corked oil wells in the state.

But the company had earlier denied allegations of insensitivity to environmental issues arising from its activities.

Representative of the company, Mr. Paulinus Bassey who explained the company’s position at the palace of the Paramount Ruler of Ikot Abasi, HRM (Edidem) Ufot.

Ntuk Obom said that perceptions held against SPDC was not true as the company was the best among oil companies in matters of health, safety and environment in the Niger Delta.

Said he: “The speculations or perception that SPDC does not care is far from our attitude. We are the best in the oil industry. We respect and we want to be the best in the oil industries, health, safety and environment are the key things that we watch”.

Explaining why SPDC could not respond earlier to the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly’s invitation, Mr. Bassey maintained that Shell was investigating the spill to come out with the truth.

“In the letter that was sent to us, there are certain things that were responsible and we have to do a thorough investigation to come out with the truth “adding that, it was far from the truth that SPDC had corked oil wells in Akwa Ibom and stayed outside the state to tap the oil indirectly.

He affirmed that the team was in the state to inspect the oil spill site, its impact, clean up the spill as well as assist the affected communities.

Responding, the paramount Ruler, faulted Shell’s approach to the resolution of the crisis as inconclusive pointing out that besides Ikot Ada Udo, there were adjoining communities in the area which have suffered the impact of oil and gas emissions.

The Royal father also accused SPDC of adopting a back door tactics to resolve the matter.

“We know that SPDC had closed its wells in the years gone by so that Akwa Ibom would not even have a share of the oil proceeds.

Akwa Ibom would have been far ahead of others but for the activities of SPDC blocking the available oil wells and taping the oil indirectly through enhanced technologies without the knowledge of the communities.

Also, soil export and environmental consultant, Prof. Eno Udo told Daily Champion that the prolong oil and gas pollution in the area has posed a great danger to the source of economic life of the people.

He explained that apart from affecting the purity of the air which sometimes resulted in health problems amongst the people, homes and even the soil fertility was grossly affected as crops yield has been hindered.

Udo who was a former commissioner of agriculture in the state noted that when oil was discovered in the area around 1960s by the company, the hope was that it would bring with it happiness and development.

He lamented that the reverse was the case as SPDC did nothing to benefit those communities bearing mineral oil resource in the state.

He called for adequate remediation of the affected communities to avert the wrath of the people of the state.

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