ESG Insider

Shell Nigeria oil spill estimates balloon as profits rocket

Royal Dutch Shell’s 2008 oil spill in the Niger Delta resulted in 1,640 barrels of oil spilt into the environmentally sensitive region. At least, that was the company’s story at the time.

New documents obtained by Amnesty International cast doubt on this. They claim that a total of between 103,000 and 311,000 barrels of oil flooded into the Bodo creeks over the period of a week – at least 60 times greater than Shell’s official estimate.

US oil spill consultancy Accufacts arrived at the figure after analysing video footage taken by local villagers. A similar method was used by investigators of the Gulf of Mexico spill in 2010.

Amnesty International hinted to a repression of the true extent of the spill by Shell in November last year, when the NGO published “The true tragedy” on its website.

This latest revelation comes off the back of encouraging profit performance figures from the first quarter of 2012. Shell made over £2 million an hour on the back of soaring crude oil prices. After an assets-sale earlier this year, profits in the first quarter alone stand to pass $4 billion. Shares rose as CEO Peter Voser claimed that profits will be plowed back into dividends for investors and future energy security for consumers.

If that doesn’t please unscrupulous shareholders, then a $32 million tax rebate by the Canadian government most certainly will.

According to a transparency document released yesterday, Shell recovered the funds from overpaid income tax in recent years. The company also points out that it has invested in Albertan oil sands projects and provided provincial governments with $320 million in royalties.

The move towards transparency, thanks to efforts by the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) and Publish What You Pay, does not require the company to disclose separate financial statements per country.

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