Bayelsa community takes Agip’s ENI to Italian court, seeks compensation for oil spill

• Firm to establish 150,000bpd refinery in Port Harcourt

The coastal community of Ikebiri in Southern Ijaw Local Council Area of Bayelsa State has taken ENI, the parent company of Nigerian Agip Oil Company (NAOC) to an Italian court seeking compensation for oil spill.

The Head of Legal Resources at Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) Mr. Chima Williams disclosed this in a statement.

Supporting the suit is the monarch of Ikebiri community, Francis Temi Ododo, who is represented by Luca Saltalamacchia.

They are seeking a thorough cleanup of the community and a compensation of two million Euros for the pollution of the environment.

According to the Executive Director of ERA/FoEN, Godwin Uyi Ojo: “We feel that this case should set the stage for other communities that were equally impacted by ENI’s operations to serve as a deterrent to Agip/ENI and other oil companies.”

The suit, which was filed in Milan, Italy, followed the
pipeline that caught fire on April 5, 2010, about 250 metres from the north of Ikebiri creeks.

Williams disclosed that ERA/FoEN would also offer legal support services to the community alongside their European counterpart.

Ojo said: “This is the first case of its kind against the Italian oil giant after years of exploitation in the Niger Delta. The ENI’s negligence and its subsidiary, NAOC, had left the Ikebiri community to suffer in the last seven years.”

He stressed that the pollution had lasted for so long and destroyed their fishing and farming activities.

Ojo also disclosed that the company must pay them adequate compensation, instead of the N4.5 it offered to them, because “NAOC agreed before a joint inspection visit that ‘equipment failure’ caused the spill.”

The Media Relations Officer, Exploration, Upstream and Technical Activities unit at ENI, Marilia Cioni, has acknowledged the litigation in a response to e-mail.

“I will revert to you with ENI’s position on this matter shortly,” he said.

Meanwhile, the company has promised to build a new 150 000 barrels per day’ refinery in Port Harcourt to meet the country’s local consumption.

The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Ibe Kachukwu, disclosed this yesterday after a meeting with Acting President Yemi Osinbajo in Abuja.

He said the decision was taken at a meeting with the oil company where the modalities for a memorandum of understanding were also worked out.

Kachukwu explained that ‎the resolution to invest in the Zabazaba field would compel other oil companies to make local investments.


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