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Nigeria digs deep on latest Shell oil spill

Pipeline leak reportedly lasted for several days and contaminated a river in oil-producing Niger Delta

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Nigerian authorities have reported a new oil spill at a Shell facility in the Niger Delta, which they say has contaminated farmland and a river, disrupting livelihoods in fishing and farming communities, according to RT News.

The spill came from the Trans-Niger Pipeline operated by the British multinational oil and gas company, which runs through communities in the Eleme area of Ogoni land in Rivers State, the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) told Associated Press.

It was detected on June 11 and lasted for more than a week before bursting into the Okulu River, which connects to other rivers and eventually empties into the Atlantic Ocean, according to the Youths and Environmental Advocacy Centre (YEAC-Nigeria), an NGO that monitors spills in the Niger Delta.

Authorities in the West African country are investigating the cause of the spill in order to determine the volume of oil leaked, which is currently unknown.

The YEAC said a team comprising NOSDRA and local community representatives was at the site on Monday to gather information, analyze data, examine physical evidence, and determine the causes of the leak.

Shell has faced decades-long local pushback to its oil explorations in the Niger Delta, with numerous legal disputes regarding oil spills.

Earlier this year, more than 11,000 people and 17 institutions in Nigeria’s oil-producing state’s Ogale community sued the company for allegedly disrupting their livelihoods through pollution caused by spills.

The London-based energy giant attributes the majority of the spills to pipeline sabotage and illicit extraction of crude oil.

Climate and energy campaigner for Greenpeace Africa, Thandile Chinyavanhu, said the recent spillage further damages Shell’s reputation in Africa’s largest economy.

Shell must be held accountable and financially responsible for this spill and for its neocolonial role in causing climate loss and damage,” she said.

The oil company has “money to pay, after reporting $40 billion in profits last year,” Chinyavanhu added.

Last month, the UK Supreme Court dismissed a lawsuit filed by two Nigerians against two Shell subsidiaries over a 2011 offshore oil spill in which the claimants had argued that the consequences of the pollution constituted a “continuing nuisance.” The judges rejected the claimants’ submission, stating the leak “was a one-off event or an isolated escape.

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