Bayelsa community sues Italian oil giant ENI over oil spill
The Ikebiri community, from Bayelsa state, Nigeria, have launched an unprecedented legal case against the Italian oil giant ENI, seeking cleanup and compensation for damages from an oil spill that has affected their community in the Niger Delta.
Supported by Friends of the Earth Europe and Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria, the Ikebiri community is calling for adequate compensation and clean-up of an oil spill dating back to 2010, which has yet to be addressed. The Italian oil giant, which operates through its subsidiary, the Nigerian Agip Oil is allegedly responsible for the spill, caused by equipment failure.
Executive Director, Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria, Godwin Ojo, said: “This is the first case of its kind against Italian oil giant ENI, after years of exploitation in the Niger Delta of Nigeria. Negligence and nonchalance from ENI and its subsidiary NAOC has left the Ikebiri community suffering from the impacts oil pollution for seven years.”
The leak was closed in 2010, and NAOC claims to have cleaned up the site. However, according to the community, the leaked oil in the surrounding area was simply burnt, without their consent. To date, no adequate compensation has been offered, or cleanup completed.
Chief Francis Temi Ododo, the king of the Ikebiri community said: “Our community cannot wait any longer. We have had ENI’s pollution for too long, damaging our fishing, our farming and our lives. We are now looking to the Italian courts for justice for our people.”
“The communities of the Niger Delta have had to live for decades with the effects of continuous oil spills on their health, the welfare and their livelihoods. Thousands of oil spills have blighted the communities across the Niger Delta to feed the profits of ENI, Shell and other oil and gas companies,” according to the organisations.
Colin Roche, extractive industries campaigner for Friends of the Earth Europe said: “For far too long the communities of the Niger Delta have had to live with the pollution of their land, their water, and their air by oil companies who’ve put profit before their lives.
ENI should now live up to its responsibility and clean up the mess it has made and compensate the community for having to live with their destruction.”
To date, eleven million barrels of oil have been spilled in the Delta, twice the amount spilled during the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.