Royal Dutch Shell Group .com Shell confirms oil spill in south-eastern Nigeria state


18 June 04


LAGOS : The Anglo-Dutch oil giant Shell said that it has sent a clean-up team to try to contain an oil slick which had been coursing from a sabotaged pipeline in southern Nigeria for more than two weeks.


The firm said in a statement received here that its engineers on June 1 had been prevented from getting to the scene of the disaster in Imo State by a violent demonstration by local youths.


"The spill investigation ... confirmed that the pipeline leak was caused by sabotage as a result of drilled hole and hacksaw cut," Shell said in a statement signed by its spokesman, Don Boham.


The spill in the 18 inch (45 centimetre) wide Assa-Rumuekpe trunkline was finally clamped on Wednesday, two weeks after the rupture, it said.


Although the Shell statement did not indicate the extent of human and ecological damage caused by the spill, the Vanguard newspaper reported on its front page Friday that trees and property worth 750 million naira (5.6 million dollars) were destroyed as a result of the disaster.


The spill, spread over five kilometres (three miles), was spotted by local residents of Umuogwa community in the state last June 1 and reported immediately to Shell and government officials, the newspaper said.


The affected community is pressing for compensation from the oil company over the spill.


Residents in oil-rich communities in southern Niger-Delta region of Nigeria often blame oil companies for polluting their environment, while the firms counter that in many cases sabotage or theft are to blame for the spills.



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