Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company (SNEPCO) says court judgment on 3.6 billion dollars fine for the Dec. 20, 2011 oil spill in parts of Niger Delta is not binding.
Shell, operator of the Bonga oil field where the spill occurred, had approached the courts to challenge the powers of National Oil Spills Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) to impose fines on it.
Mr Bamidele Odugbesan, Media Relations Manager at Shell told News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Tuesday that the judgment merely clarified that NOSDRA had no powers to impose fine but did not compel it to pay the fine.
“The Dec. 20, 2011 Bonga spill was a regrettable operational incident that was effectively contained and cleaned up as a result of efforts by SNEPCo, regulators and other industry resources from within and outside Nigeria.
“There is no decision of any court requiring SNEPCo to make any monetary payment,’’ he said.
Odugbesan said that SNEPCo had appealed against the judgments.
According to him, they are contrary to previous judgments of the Federal High Court and Court of Appeal that NOSDRA does not have the powers to assess and or impose compensations or fines in respect of oil spills.
“The judgment was in respect of the powers of NOSDRA to impose fines and there is no decision of any court requiring SNEPCo to make any monetary payment as a result of the spill.”
Justice Mojisola Olatoregun of a Federal High Court in Lagos, on June 20, upheld the 3.6 billion dollars fine imposed on Shell by NOSDRA, dismissing Shell’s case.
Following the Dec. 20, 2011 spill, NOSDRA in March 2015, imposed the fine on Shell for discharging 40,000 barrels of crude into the Atlantic Ocean.
The fine comprised 1.8 billion dollars as compensation for damage to natural resources and consequential loss of income by the affected shoreline communities and a punitive damage of 1.8 billion dollars.
The spill occurred during loading of crude at Bonga fields within OML 118 situated 120 kilometres off the Atlantic coastline, the export line ruptured and discharged crude into the sea.
The export line, according to a joint investigation report by NOSDRA and SNEPCO, spewed about 40,000 barrels (6.4 million litres) of crude oil into the sea.