Documents before a United Kingdom, UK court have revealed that Shell Petroleum Development Company, SPDC, has at different times made false claims about the impact of major oil spills in the Bodo area of Gokana Local Government, Rivers State.
This was disclosed in a statement issued on Thursday by the Amnesty International.
The statement said revelations in the court showed that the company has made frantic efforts to downplay the impact of the spillage just to minimize the compensation it would pay for its atrocities in the community.
The convincing evidence that Shell underestimated the Bodo spills emerged in the legal proceedings brought by 15,000 people of the community whose livelihoods were devastated by oil pollution in 2008.
While Shell’s joint investigation report earlier claimed that only 4,143 barrels spilled in total from two major spillages, an independent assessment published by US firm, Accufacts Inc., revealed that the total amount of oil spilled exceeded 100,000 barrels.
But that was previously denied by Shell repeatedly, while defending its lower figure.
Based on the court documents however, Shell admits its figure was wrong in both this case and a second spill, also in 2008, in the same area.
The court action has forced Shell to finally admit the company has underplayed the true magnitude of at least two spills and the extent of the damage caused.
Reacting to the development, Audrey Gaughran, Director for Global Issues, Amnesty International said, “After these revelations, the company stands completely discredited.”
“Shell will no doubt continue to defend its abysmal record in Nigeria by more misdirection, blaming spills on oil thieves. But the basis for these claims are the Joint Investigation Visit forms – which Shell must now admit are entirely unreliable,” she said.