Nigerian community sues Italian oil giant Eni

4 May 2017

The Ikebiri community, from Bayelsa state, Nigeria, have launched an unprecedented legal case against the Italian oil giant Eni today seeking clean-up of, and compensation for damages from, an oil spill which has affected their community in the Niger Delta [1].

Supported by Friends of the Earth Europe and Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria, the Ikebiri community are calling for adequate compensation and clean-up of an oil spill dating back to 2010, which has yet to be addressed. The Italian oil giant Eni, which operates in Nigeria through its subsidiary Nigerian Agip Oil Company (NAOC), is responsible for the spill, caused by equipment failure [2].

Godwin Ojo, Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria, said: "This is the first case of its kind against Italian oil giant ENI, after years of reckless exploitation in the Niger Delta of Nigeria. Negligence and nonchalance from Eni and its subsidiary NAOC has left the Ikebiri community suffering from the impacts oil pollution for seven years."

The leak was closed in 2010, and NAOC claims to have cleaned up the site. However, according to the community the leaked oil in the surrounding area was simply burnt, without their consent. To date, no adequate compensation has been offered, or clean-up completed.

Chief Francis Temi Ododo, the King of the Ikebiri community said: "Our community cannot wait any longer. We have had Eni's pollution for too long, damaging our fishing, our farming and our lives. We are now looking to the Italian courts for justice for our people."

 

The communities of the Niger Delta have had to live for decades with the effects of continuous oil spills on their health, the welfare and their livelihoods. Thousands of oil spills have blighted the communities across the Niger Delta to feed the profits of Eni, Shell and other oil and gas companies, according to the organisations.

Colin Roche, extractive industries campaigner for Friends of the Earth Europe said: "For far too long the communities of the Niger Delta have had to live with the pollution of their land, their water, and their air by oil companies who've put profit before their lives. Eni should now live up to its responsibility and clean up the mess it has made and compensate the community for having to live with their destruction."

To date, eleven million barrels of oil have been spilled in the Delta, twice the amount spilled during the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. New spills occur weekly. Environmental Rights Action (Friends of the Earth Nigeria) and Friends of the Earth Europe continue to campaign for the clean-up of the region.

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NOTES:

[1] On the 5th of April, 2010, an oil pipeline operated by Nigerian Agip Oil Company (NAOC) burst 250 metres from a creek north of the Ikebiri community. An estimated 150 barrels of oil leached into the creek. The spill affected the creek, fishing ponds and trees essential to the local community, irreparably damaging the livelihoods of the local community: http://www.foeeurope.org/sites/default/files/extractive_industries/2017/foee-eni-ikebiri-case-briefing-040517.pdf

[2] NAOC is a subsidiary of Eni, an Italian based company. Eni conglomerate owns 100% of NAOC. Parent companies are responsible for their subsidiaries, especially if all proprietary knowledge is in the hands of the parent company, and Italian judges have jurisdiction over Italian companies: https://www.eni.com/en_NG/eni-in-nigeria/eni-in-nigeria.html