The Senator, representing Lagos Central Senatorial District and Chairman, Senate Committee on Environment, Oluremi Tinubu, has lauded the judgment of the Federal High Court in Lagos delivered by Justice Olatoregun, upholding the $3.6 billion fine against Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) in respect of the Bonga oil spill of 2011.
In December 2011, during Shell's exploratory activities within OML 118, the company's vessel at the Bonga deep offshore field spilled about 40,000 barrels equivalent to 6,400,000 litres of crude oil into the sea. Subsequently, the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) levied the sum of $1.8 billion as compensation for damage done to the environment and affected communities, and another $1.8 billion as punitive damages.
However, Shell instituted an action alleging that the agency's exercise of its enforcement function was in contravention of the provisions of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).
"The decision of the court dismissing the suit and upholding the fine is a victory for our environment and the affected communities. Beyond ensuring the remediation of these areas, it will also serve as deterrent to other players in the oil sector," Tinubu said.
She said the judgment would set the trend for punitive measures to international oil companies (IOCs) that operate in contravention of the law and evade liability.
While calling for strengthening of the various institutions, the senator said the ongoing amendment of the NOSDRA Act, if eventually passed, would better position the agency to defend the integrity of the environment as it affects the oil sector.