The oil giant Shell is challenging the authority of the Nigerian Senate by rejecting an order to pay compensation of $1.5 billion to communities in the Niger Delta affected by oil pollution.

Press Release
Friends of the Earth International
August 31, 2004 London (UK) / Lagos (Nigeria)

Shell claims the Nigerian Government has failed to follow “due process”. In an advertisement published in Nigerian newspapers yesterday and today [1], the Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria (SPDC) claims the Senate failed to follow due process in imposing the fine, announced last week.

Friends of the Earth Nigeria reacted angrily to the advertisement, saying it showed that the oil giant was yet again trying to avoid facing up to its responsibilities to the local communities.

The petition for compensation was brought to the Nigerian House of Representatives by the Ijaw Aborigines of Bayelsa State who say that
repeated oil spills by Shell have lead to widespread disease in their

The House adopted a resolution in May 2003 which stated that Shell was liable to pay compensation to the Ijaw Aborigines and that more research should be done to determine whether oil pollution is linked to terminal illnesses such as cancer. The Nigerian Senate ruled on Tuesday 24th August that Shell must pay $1.5 billion compensation to the community.

Shell claims in the advertisement that the spills were a result of sabotage.

Friends of the Earth Nigeria Director Nnimmo Bassey said: “Yet again Shell is refusing to take responsibility for the damage it inflicts on the people of the Niger Delta. Shell’s operations have caused pollution on a terrible scale. The people have lost their farmland, water sources have been contaminated – and human health has suffered as a result. Shell maintains it is a good corporate citizen, but the evidence tells a very different story.”

Friends of the Earth International Vice Chair Tony Juniper added: “Shell’s behaviour in Nigeria is disgraceful. This vast company claims to be a leader in corporate responsibility but its legacy in Nigeria will scar the country for decades to come. The British Government must act to force this company to meet its legal obligations overseas – and act to prevent any other British company behaving in such a way abroad.”

For more information contact:

In Nigeria: Nnimmo Bassey, director Of ERA/Friends of the Earth Nigeria

In London: Friends of the Earth Press office
+ 44-20-75661649


[1] Copies of the advertisement, which appeared in yesterday’s “The Punch” are available from the press office at Friends of the Earth in London and in Nigeria .