Shell Oil Angers Bishop

Archbishop John Olorinfemi Onaiyekan of Abuja, Nigeria, is urging Shell Oil to act in “an environmentally sustainable way.” He said, “Shell should not do in the Niger Delta what it would not do in the North Sea.” The archbishop’s protests drew the attention of European human rights groups, which have filed official complaints against the oil giant with the Dutch and British governments. In the 1990s, Shell acknowledged that much of the oil pollution in the Niger Delta was due to the company’s own failures. Human rights groups say that now, however, the company blames sabotage by communities and criminals for most of the problem, citing misleading figures that purport to show as much as 98 percent of oil spills are caused by sabotage. When spills are classified as due to sabotage, Shell has no liability, under Nigerian law, with respect to compensation for damage done to people or their livelihoods.

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