Lagos — Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) says it paid over $1.1 million last year to communities affected by oil spills in the country.
Managing Director of the company, Mutiu Sunmonu, said in the Shell Briefing Note that the development was the high point of the premium his company has for its host communities.
He said in the last five years, the company has been dealing with an average of 172 oil spills per year, which he stated is slightly more than the 169 average for the 2006 to 2010 period.
"There were 63 operational spills over 100 kg in 2011 (32 in 2010), but the total volume spilled decreased to 3,595 barrels from 5,270 in 2010 due to improved oil spill response time," he said.
Bemoaning the spate of oil theft in Shell facilities in Nigeria, Sunmonu said the development is evident from the thick smoke from illegal refineries that line the shore, adding that the land, the shorelines and the water are heavily polluted with oil as a result of these activities.
He said: "The scale of these operations is not hidden.
The perpetrators of these crimes have set up barge building yards and storage depots for the stolen crude. This is not petty theft undertaken by desperate individuals struggling to make a living. These are well-funded crimes that may be connected with an international syndicate.
"Our concern is that if this business continues at this rate, the effects could be devastating, not only to the social and environmental structure of many areas of the Niger Delta, but also to Nigeria's economy."