Chief executive of Shell Ben van Beurden has visited sites in the Niger Delta, where his company has come under scrutiny for its role in a series of oil spills.
Van Beurden replaced Peter Voser as CEO of the oil giant in March and has had to deal with a number of controversial issues, including Shell’s operations in the Arctic and Nigeria.
Shell has blamed the stealing of oil for the spills that have occurred in the Niger Delta, but NGOs have contested such claims, bringing evidence on environmental damage and human rights violations.
However, Shell has shown intentions to compensate for the accidents with “significant sums”.
A Shell spokesman said, “The commitment [to pay for clean-up] has always been there and I am sure [Van Beurden] will be discussing this issue with a variety of people when he is there. If that serves as progress it can only be a good thing”.
Around 7,000 spills occurred between 1970 and 2000 alone, which caused the UN Environment Programme (Unep) to call on Shell to clean-up its operations, a claim also made at the company’s annual general meeting (AGM) in May.
Last year, Amnesty International accused Shell of having manipulated investigations on the spills, in order to avoid giving appropriate compensation to African communities, saying that sabotage was the cause of the accidents even when this was untrue.
In April, representatives from the Bodo community took Shell to court over two oil spills that happened in 2008, which they said devastated farmers and fishermen, as it took months before the pipeline was repaired.
Photo: Sosialistisk Ungdom SU via flickr