Nigeria's parliament says Shell should pay $4 billion for 2011 oil spill
By Abraham Terngu
ABUJA (Reuters) - Nigeria's National Assembly said on Wednesday oil major Shell should pay $3.96 billion for a 2011 spill at its offshore Bonga oilfield in the latest assessment of damage to the environment.
The non-binding decision comes after years of analysis by various Nigerian state agencies, which have proposed a range of fines as high as $11.5 billion.
The parliament finally reached a decision based on the report of the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA), which previously recommended a fine of $5 billion.
Shell declined to comment. The company has previously said it took responsibility for the spill and had cleaned the area.
The parliament's decision is non-binding as it only has the power to recommend fines to the government and cannot enforce them.
NOSDRA estimated that around 40,000 barrels were spilled when a tanker was loading crude at the offshore platform operated by Shell's subsidiary SNEPCO. The Bonga field was producing 200,000 barrels per day at the time.
NOSDRA has previously said the spill had hurt locals in the area who rely on fishing for their livelihoods as the slick covered an area of around 950 square km.
"Since all efforts by this committee were tactfully rebuffed by SNEPCO, (it) has decided to adopt the damage assessment report submitted by NOSDRA as the lead agency in all oil spill management," Uche Ekwunife, chairman of the environmental committee told the assembly. Continued...