April 21, 2024

 

Oredola Adeola

A minimum of $12 billion will be needed to “clean up the soil and drinking water, reduce the health risk to people and restore mangrove forests essential to stopping floods in Bayelsa State, the state’s Oil and Environmental Commission (BSOEC) has revealed.

 

Bayelsa State Oil and Environment Commission(BSOEC) revealed in a formally presented final report of its investigation into the impact of oil exploration activities on the state to the international community, released on Tuesday.

 

EnergyDay gathered that the BSOEC, chaired by John Sentamu, a member of Britain’s House of Lords and former Archbishop of York, was commissioned by former Bayelsa State Government, Seriake Dickson.

 

Other members of the Commission are renowned personalities including John Kuffuor , former Ghanaian President, and Baroness Valerie Amos to mention but a few.

 

The Commission in its four-year investigation which was presented before the House of Lords in London on Tuesday, unravel some of the devastating impacts of oil pollution in Bayelsa and indeed the Niger Delta region.

 

 

The researchers stated in the report that they used a United Nations model used to calculate the clean-up cost of spills in Niger Delta’s Ogoniland more than a decade ago and found that “the clean-up will cost US$12 billion over 12 years” in Bayelsa.

 

 

The report also established failures of strategy, prevention, response and remediation by the major oil companies.

 

 

It also attributed majority of the environment crisis to Shell and Eni, whose local subsidiaries still operate in the region, to pay a share of the bill.

 

 

The Commission’s chairman therefore urged Wael Sawan, Shell’s new Chief Executive Officer(CEO) to settle its own share of the $12 billion bill.

 

 

The report is based on over 2,500 pieces of evidence including 500 interviews and analysis of 1,600 blood samples from local people.

 

 

Over the years, “as much as one and a half barrels of oil has been spilled in Bayelsa for every man, woman and child living in the state today.”

 

 

The wider Niger Delta, according to the report, has suffered the equivalent of the Exxon Valdez disaster every single year for 50 years.

 

 

The 1989 tanker disaster spewed nearly 11 million gallons (42 million litres) of crude oil off the coast of Alaska.

 

 

The report pointed to the potentially far-reaching impact on health from oil and gas pollution.

 

 

“Highly toxic contaminants that cause burns, lung problems and risk of cancer are widespread,” it said.

 

 

One sample of groundwater contained toxic chemicals present at more than a million times safe limits.

 

 

BSOEC’s report also attributed the crisis to “the systemic failings of international oil company operators with the complicity of Nigeria’s political classes and a dysfunctional Nigerian regulatory state.”

 

 

It recommended that the amount paid by companies, should be based on the amount of oil pumped since commercial exploitation began and “perhaps weighed to reflect the company’s pollution record.”

 

 

Establishing his side of story,King Dakolo, a traditional ruler and chief in Bayelsa, informed the commission about the enormity of the crisis on his community.

 

According to him, the impact of the crisis caused by activities of the oil majors in his kingdom is devastating, adding that it is choking him and his people.

 

The monarch said , “It stares me in the face every day.

 

 

“There is talk of paying for climate loss and damage amongst world leaders. Oil companies could start by accounting for the damage done in my state.”

 

Eni while rejecting allegations of “environmental racism” made by the commission said it “conducts its activities according to the sector’s international environmental best practices, without any distinction on a country basis.”

 

It also blamed most oil spills on sabotage and theft in the regions, adding that the company “undertakes to remedy in all cases” when spills occur.

 

The Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited, SPDC’s spokesperson said it was not privy to the final report and could not comment.

“Regardless of the cause of a spill, we clean up and remediate areas affected by spills originating from our facilities,” a Shell spokesperson said.