Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company, SNEPCO, yesterday, faulted the $6.5 billion fines, about N1.84 trillion, imposed on it by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, and the National Oil Spills Detection and Response Agency, NOSDRA, over the Bonga oil spill.
It said that there was no evidence to support the allegation that any community was impacted by the Bonga oil spill to merit compensation.
This was even as a non-government organisation, Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN), yesterday, commended the Federal Government of Nigeria for the N1.84 trillion fines imposed on SNEPCo for the December 2011 Bonga oil spill, saying that the oil company's days of impunity were over.
Mr. Chike Onyejekwe, Managing Director of SNEPCo, denied allegations that its officials frustrated government agencies from accessing spill sites in the aftermath of the Bonga spill.
According to him, "We deeply regret that this incident took place, but as a responsible operator and corporate citizen we responded to it professionally and effectively and everything we did was with the active support of the regulatory authorities and in compliance with the applicable regulations.
He said: "On December 20, 2011 SNEPCo shut down production from the Bonga field after a leak occurred on one of three export loading lines as oil was being transferred from the floating production storage and offloading, FPSO, vessel to a loading tanker.
"A well-coordinated clean up operation was successfully completed on January 1, 2012 and production resumed, following the reinforcement of asset integrity and safety programmes.
"Satellite and aerial images confirmed that the Bonga oil spill could not have reached coastlines in the eastern Niger Delta, as has been claimed.
"Oil from the Bonga spill had largely dispersed by Sunday, December 25, 2011 due to the integrated efforts of SNEPCo, the Nigerian government and our industry partners in the application of approved dispersant, and natural processes of dispersal and evaporation.
"The Bonga facility is 120km from shore and we were surprised to see images of a third party spill, which appeared to be from a vessel, at approximately 100 km from the Bonga facility in areas close to Forcados shore.
"SNEPCo, as a responsible corporate citizen, voluntarily took action to clean up this spill as well, despite it having nothing to do with its operations."