Oil giant Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) has accused the Nigerian government of frustrating the release of $1 billion earmarked by a 2011 UN report for the clean-up of damage oil pollution has done in Ogoniland.
Mr Augustine Igbuku, Ogoni Restoration's project manager for the SPDC made the accusation during a session with stakeholders organised by the Uche Ekwunife-led House of Representatives Committee on Environment yesterday.
Igbuku said Shell is willing to make its contribution to the $1 billion Ogoni Restoration Fund but is being hampered by the lack of governance structure and legal framework for Hydrocarbon Pollution Restoration Project (HYPREP), the ad-hoc intervention agency set up by the government.
On the part of Shell, Igbuku cited illegal oil bunkering and lack of work plan by the Ministry of Petroleum Resources for the proposed clean-up and the utilization of the funds as factors stopping Shell from coming up with its part of the funds.
"There were 47 breaks in the pipeline. We did 50 clean-ups. People are still breaking the pipes in spite of the local contractors that we employed to safeguard them," he said.
To this end, the House Committee on Environment gave the petroleum resources ministry two weeks to produce and submit a work plan for the proposed clean-up and the utilization of the funds.
The permanent secretary of the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, Danladi Kifasi, and Dr Musa Zagi, GM, health, safety and environment in the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) assured the federal government is working seriously on the implementation of the UNEP Report.
Kifasi said the petroleum ministry has set up committees on the issue. He said HYPREP has started intervention work in the Ogoni community.
Chairman of the committee Hon. Uche Ekwunife, expressed disappointment over the non- implementation of the 2011 UN report on Ogoni-land.
"We need a speedy resolution of the issue. We're talking about a spill in Ogoniland that happened so long ago. We will not continue to deal with this matter in this manner.
"Their water is contaminated, ecosystem is out. The people are living in danger and one out of eight citizens is dying of cancer. UNEP report says it will take about 30 years to clean up and if we are still passing bucks after three years, when are we going to complete it?"
The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) report had criticized Shell and the Nigerian government for contributing to 50 years of pollution in Ogoniland, a region of the Niger Delta which it says needs the world's largest ever oil clean-up.
The UNEP report said 10 out of the 15 investigated sites which SPDC said they had completely remediated still had pollution exceeding the SPDC and government remediation values.
UNEP's report is the most detailed scientific study on any area in the Niger Delta, UNEP and rights groups said. It was paid for partly by Shell after a request by the government.