The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Nnimmo Bassey, chair of FOE-l and director of Environmental Rights Action in Nigeria, Tel: +1 347 657 42 60 (US mobile number valid only until August 28)

Geert Ritsema from FOE-Netherlands /Milieudefensie. Tel: +31-6-21829589 (Dutch mobile number)

Nigeria Oil Spills: Outrage at Shell-funded UN investigation

LAGOS, Nigeria / AMSTERDAM, The Netherlands

Friends of the Earth International
is outraged by reports that a major UN investigation into Nigeria oil
spills funded by oil giant Shell relies more on figures produced by
oil companies and Nigerian state statistics than on community
testimony and organizations on the ground who work with communities.

After releasing some information last week about its
ongoing investigation, which is due to be released in early 2011, the
UN Environment Programme (UNEP) was strongly criticised by
environmental and human rights organisations. The UNEP acknowledged
that its investigation relies heavily on data supplied by the oil
and in an August 23 statement announced that no draft report currently

Shell oil spills and gas flaring in Nigeria are a
major human rights and environmental tragedy.

Nnimmo Bassey,
chair of Friends the Earth International and director of
Environmental Rights Action in Nigeria said:

"We monitor
spills regularly and our observations often contradict information
produced by oil companies and Nigerian regulatory agencies . If the
UNEP team would ask community monitors it would avoid falling into
the trap of spinning Shell's figures. The UN assessment is being paid
for by Shell so we are not surprised that it tells Shell's version of
the facts. But the reality is that several studies have placed the
bulk of the blame for oil spills in the Niger Delta on the doorsteps
of the oil companies; particularly Shell."

Geert Ritsema
Friends of the Earth Netherlands /Milieudefensie added:

should base its findings mostly on independent sources rather than on
information from the oil companies responsible for the massive oil
pollution in Nigeria. Last week UNEP team head Mike Cowing repeated
Shell's lies that only ten percent of oil pollution in Ogoniland was
caused by equipment failures and company negligence and 90% by locals
stealing oil. Yet he himself earlier stated that Shell's large scale
oil pollution and performance in Ogoniland was 'unacceptable'. These
figures are not even consistent with some Shell official reports
which admit that 45% of all leakages from Shell facilities between
1998 and 2007 were due to poor maintenance of oil installations."

In May 2008 four Nigerian citizens and Friends of the
Earth Netherlands/Nigeria filed a unique lawsuit against Anglo-Dutch
oil giant Shell. The Nigerians, fishermen and farmers, suffered major
damage from oil spills because of oil production by Shell. The first
lawsuit hearing is expected take place in The Hague (The Netherlands)
later in 2010. [3]

Oil extraction in the Niger delta started
during the 1950s and was suspended in Ogoniland in the 1990s because
of unrest and many oil spills there have not yet been cleaned up by

Friends of the Earth International is the world's largest grassroots environmental network, uniting 74 national member groups and some 5,000 local activist groups on every continent. With over 2 million members and supporters around the world, FOEI campaigns on today's most urgent environmental and social issues.