For Immediate Release

Organization Profile: 
Contact: 

Tel: +44 (0) 20 7413 5566
After hours: +44 7778 472 126
Email: press@amnesty.org

Nigeria: UN Must Not Use Flawed Data on Cause of Oil Spills

LONDON - Amnesty International today challenged the credibility of data
cited by a senior UN official investigating oil-impacted sites in
Ogoniland in the Niger Delta.

A United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) official is reported to
have said that 90 per cent of oil spills in Ogoniland were due to
sabotage and criminal activity, and just 10 per cent due to equipment
failure and negligence by companies such as Shell.

Amnesty International has challenged UNEP’s reliance on these
figures, which were produced by Nigerian regulatory agencies that are
known to depend heavily on the oil companies themselves when it comes to
spill investigations.

“Relying on these figures would be a serious misjudgement, with
potentially significant ramifications for those living in the Niger
Delta,” said Audrey Gaughran, Director of Amnesty International’s Global
Thematic Issues Program. “UNEP must be aware that the figures have been
strongly challenged for years by environmental groups and communities.
They are totally lacking in credibility.”

“The people of the Niger Delta have been lied to and denied justice
for decades. The issue of oil spill causation is sensitive. If UNEP is
going to comment on the cause of oil spills it should do so only on the
basis of hard and credible evidence, not figures that are a source of
conflict.”

In June 2009 an Amnesty International report on the human rights
impacts of oil pollution concluded that the oil spill investigation
system in the Niger Delta was totally lacking in independence, and was
inadequate to determine the proportion of oil spills caused by sabotage,
as opposed to equipment failure. Amnesty International found that in
many cases oil companies have significant influence on determining the
cause of a spill. The report documents examples of cases where Shell
claimed the cause of a spill was sabotage, but the claim was
subsequently questioned by other investigations or the courts.

SCROLL TO CONTINUE WITH CONTENT

The media landscape is changing fast

Our news team is changing too as we work hard to bring you the news that matters most.

Change is coming. And we've got it covered.

Please donate to our 2019 Mid-Year Campaign today.

Amnesty International has called for independent oversight of the oil
industry in the Niger Delta, including disclosure of all relevant
information on the causes of oil pollution.

Between 1989 and 1994 Shell itself estimated that only 28 percent of
oil spilt in the Niger Delta was caused by sabotage. In 2007 Shell's
estimate had risen to 70 per cent. The figure now given by Shell has
increased to more than 90 per cent. Amnesty International has repeatedly
asked Shell to produce evidence to support these figures. Shell has
been unable to do so.

“While sabotage and vandalism are serious problems, there is no
evidence to support the figures offered by oil companies and the
Nigerian government agencies,” said Audrey Gaughran.

 

• For further information and an analysis of company involvement in
determining oil spill causation, or to arrange interviews, please
contact Katy Pownall on +44(0)207 413 5729 or email katy.pownall@amnesty.org
• Amnesty International’s report Petroleum, Pollution and Poverty in the Niger Delta
The full report can be viewed here:    http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/AFR44/017/2009/en
• The
report was released as part of Amnesty International’s Demand Dignity
campaign, which aims to end the human rights violations that drive and
deepen global poverty. The campaign will mobilise people all over the
world to demand that governments, corporations and others who have power
listen to the voices of those living in poverty and recognise and
protect their rights. For more information visit http://demanddignity.amnesty.org/campaigns-en/

###

We want a more open and sharing world.

That's why our content is free. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported.

All of our original content is published under Creative Commons—allowing (and encouraging) our articles to be republished freely anywhere. In addition to the traffic and reach our content generates on our site, the multiplying impact of our work is huge and growing as our articles flourish across the Internet and are republished by other large and small online and print outlets around the world.

Several times a year we run brief campaigns to ask our readers to pitch in—and thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Our 2019 Mid-Year Campaign is underway. Can you help? We can't do it without you.

Please select a donation method:



Amnesty International is a worldwide movement of people who campaign for internationally recognized human rights for all. Our supporters are outraged by human rights abuses but inspired by hope for a better world - so we work to improve human rights through campaigning and international solidarity. We have more than 2.2 million members and subscribers in more than 150 countries and regions and we coordinate this support to act for justice on a wide range of issues.

Share This Article

More in: