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Bayelsa spill: Chevron ordered to pay $3bn compensation

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By Lawrence Olaoye

The Director-General/Chief Executive of National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA}Peter Idabor, yesterday told the House of Representatives Committee on Environment that Chevron must pay an administrative fine of  $3billion to the Federal Government for the environmental disaster that took place in Bayelsa state due to gas explosion.
According to him, there was a loss of hunting and fishing grounds particularly in Koluama, a nearby settlement where the spillage occurred, and neighbouring communities.
“The gas that erupted from the subsurface sustained the fire that raged for 46 days,” he said.
“The agency has investigated the incident; the fire was caused by equipment failure. Chevron is to take responsibility for the millions of cubic feet of gas blown into the air.”
He said due to the nature of the gaseous substance, it was   difficult to assess the level of damage because the terrain was in constant flux.
“Our perspective is that the environment is in a state of flux and impacted on the people and they had to travel far to catch fish.
“The $3 billion administrative fine will go to the federal government and the federal government will determine how to distribute it to rehabilitate the affected communities. We’re tired of oil companies polluting our environment.”
Idabor said a similar occurrence in Brazil cost the affected oil company $11bn in fines.
However, Senator Gbenga Aluko, Chevron’s Director of Governmental Affairs, objected to the proposed $3bn dollar proposed fine, insisting that the company was willing and able to pay compensation, but that it must be only on a scientific basis.
He argued: “If you talk about compensation, we are ready, we have already spent over a N100 million on providing feeding and drugs for the affected communities, but whatever we pay must be based on scientific findings and not a figure plucked from the air.”

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