The people of Ikarama in Yenagoa Local Government Area of Bayelsa and the Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria (SPDC) have differed on causes of frequent oil spills in the area.
SPDC operates several oilfields within the Biseni axis of Yenagoa council area which is notorious for frequent oil spills.
The community has accused the staff of the oil major as being instrumental to some oil spills in the environment, alleging that Shell staff and contractors “make money through oil spillages.”
Chief Herbertson Lamie, the Paramount Ruler of Ikarama, affirmed the community’s position in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), in Yenagoa on Monday.
According to the traditional ruler, the perception that the people were behind the frequent spills was wrong.
Lamie said that the community had tabled the matter when Robert Petri, the Dutch Ambassador to Nigeria visited the community to see firsthand some impacted sites in the area.
He said that the community had made its position known during a town hall meeting with the ambassador that SPDC had totally abdicated its social obligations in Ikarama.
The paramount ruler alleged that the oil firm had also devised ways of evading dialogue with the people over issues arising from the oil firm’s extractive activities in the area.
“Shell never takes us as a host community. Most times, when we have problems and we write to Shell for audience, Shell will never have audience with us.
“When there is a problem and leaders of the community want to tell them the way out of the problem, Shell would rather ignite the problem.
“But the most disturbing problem we have is oil spillage in Ikarama community.
“We have oil spillage problem and this problem is ingnited by Shell staff. Shell is mostly the cause of oil spills in Ikarama community.” lamie alleged.
Reacting to the allegations, Mr Bamidele Odugbesan, the Media Relations Manager of SPDC, said the oil firm was in the business of producing and selling oil and not spilling it.
Odugbesan said that the oil firm did not tolerate leaks.
“We remain committed to our Goal Zero which means zero leak and zero harm to people and environment. Our staff and contractors are bound by this high standard of environmental performance.
“Our social investment programmes are designed to benefit our host communities in particular and we implement diverse programmes in scholarship.
”Also, we engaged in development projects through the Global Memorandum of Understanding and other initiatives within the resources available,” Odugbesan said. (NAN)