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The Globe and Mail

New oil spill in Nigeria heightens pressure on Shell

Energy giant Shell is under fire over a new oil spill in Nigeria.


Royal Dutch Shell PLC said on Sunday it was containing a new oil spill in Nigeria's onshore delta, the latest in a string of leaks from the company's pipelines, which it has blamed on sabotage attacks and oil theft.

The spill came from part of Shell's Okordia/Rumuekpe oil pipeline in the Niger Delta, where a fire last week forced the company to cut out some production.

Oil spills are common in Nigeria and are often caused by oil thieves and saboteurs who tap into the hundreds of kilometres of unguarded pipelines that vein through the vast waterways, creeks and swamplands of the Niger Delta.

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"SPDC (Shell joint venture) contained a spill on the Adibawa delivery line which was reported yesterday. We dispatched our spill containment team to the site as soon as we received the reports, and the leak has been contained," the company said in a statement.

It did not give a reason for the leak or any details about the impact on output. Environment Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria said the latest leak was a result of operational failure and poor equipment maintenance by Shell.

The oil company is coming under increasing pressure to do more about oil spills in Nigeria after a United Nations Environment Program report in August was critical of how the company deals with the environmental damage it has caused in Africa's most populous nation.

Shell agreed in August that a Nigerian community affected by one spill could claim compensation in a British court, setting a precedent for potential future claims.

The UN agency said Ogoniland, one region in the Niger Delta, needs the world's largest oil cleanup, which would cost an initial $1-billion (U.S.) and could take 30 years.

Shell and the Nigerian government both pledged to investigate the findings but have not yet announced any results.

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