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MEMBERS of Aghoro 1, community, Ekeremor Local Government Area in Bayelsa on Friday berated the Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria (SPDC) for short-changing them.
They criticised the oil firm for arbitrarily determining the compensation figure for the May 17, 2018 spill in the area.
The oil spill had impacted and polluted an estimated area of 113.03 hectares.
A joint Investigation Visit (JIV) report of the incident obtained by NAN had concluded that the leak on the pipeline at three spots were caused by equipment failure and discharged some 1,114 barrels of crude oil into the environment.
Mr Friday Otigha, a Community Leader and member of the Community Development Committee (CDC) in Aghoro 1, said that the N34 m offered by SPDC was unacceptable and had no relation with the impact assessment report.
Otigha said that despite a recommendation of N3.68 billion by the National Oil Spills Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA), SPDC proposed a paltry N34 million which the community rejected.
He said that SPDC connived with some unauthorised community leaders to foist the arbitrarily determined compensation which fell short of NOSDRA compensation rates on the community, a development that attracted sanctions to the leaders.
Otigha recalled that the oil leak, which was reported on May 17, but the joint visit could not be immediately conducted until June 23, a development that worsened the adverse impact of the spill on the predominantly fishing coastal community.
He said that hundreds of impacted fishermen thrown out of fishing by the incident were disappointed at the turn of events as they had expected SPDC to act in line with international best practices.
He urged the federal government to prevail on SPDC to retrace its steps and resolve the compensation in line with existing oil spill compensation guidelines set by the regulators.
Mr Bamidele Odugbesan, Media Relations Manager, SPDC, had earlier assured that the oil firm would compensate impacted victims of the spill, as well as remediate the polluted areas of the community.
Reacting to the allegations, Mr Michael Adande, a Spokesman of SPDC insisted that the oil firm acted with industry stakeholders to arrive at the compensation for the oil leak but declined to state the exact amount paid to victims of the spill.
“The SPDC conducts a comprehensive damage assessment and enumeration exercise with active participation of other members of the Joint Investigation Visit Team, especially the impacted claimants.
“We also use geomatrics map to establish the exact area of impact and extent within SPDC’s Right of Way or third party area and the degree of impact to arrive at a fair compensation value.
“In the case of the regrettable incident in Aghoro in Bayelsa State and Odimodi in Delta State in 2018, SPDC has paid the agreed compensation to the affected persons and communities.
“The NOSDRA Post-Impact Assessment report, however , included a N2.74 billion as ‘ecological damage assessment’ for environmental restoration and not as compensation.
“SPDC takes responsibility for clean-up, remediation and restoration.” Adande said.
It was learnt that NOSDRA had recommended a total of N 3.68 bn as compensation while N 930 million was paid out to impacted communities