In the developed world, oil companies pay millions to communities affected by oil spill, but in Nigeria, ExxonMobil has denied knowledge of the cause of the oil spill and therefore did not pay the affected community. The oil firm has now abandoned the polluted site after agreeing initially to clean it up.
Chief Willian Hennry Mkpa, a community leader in Ibeno, Akwa Ibom State, has criticized the suspension of the clean up of a oil spill by Mobil Producing Nigeria and questioned the double standards of multinationals operating within the country.
“This has once again shown the hypocrisy of ExxonMobil that claims to operate (with a) high safety and environment policy… Would they do the same in their home country?
He continued: “It is disheartening to note that Mobil never cared about the health of the community while it suspended clean up due to cost considerations… their major interest is to cut cost at the expense of human beings… For two weeks work was stopped because they refused to engage enough hands.
“The result is that the level of contamination has worsened because the water current is dynamic and has washed the oil in diverse directions,” Mkpa said
National Oil Spills Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) had ordered Mobil Producing Nigeria (MPN) to clean up the coastline within its Qua Iboe oil fields, but it is unclear why the oil firm decided to suspend the clean up.
A representative Ibeno Paramount Ruler Chief Okon Akpanowong, said that he participated in the meetings with officials of MPN on the clean up exercise but disappointed that no action had been taken two weeks after.
“It was resolved two weeks ago amongst all stakeholders, namely Mobil, the community and regulators including the Ministry of Environment that the clean up be extended for additional 10 days. We therefore do not know why the extension has not yet resumed, we signed all the papers and there is no reason to justify this delay of two weeks.
“The impact on the coastline environment is serious because it affects our fishing population, the grasses along the sea coast and aquatic life as well,” he said.
The Ibeno coastline in Akwa Ibom State was devastated by a major spill from the operations of ExxonMobil on August 13, exposing the host community and environment to health risks.
Management of ExxonMobil has however denied knowledge of the source of the spill, which the oil spills management agency, NOSDRA says it has been investigating since the middle of August.