The Belgian headquarters of oil giant Exxon Mobil is pictured in Machelen, northern Brussels, in this October 27, 2012, file photo. Exxon Mobil Corp announced quarterly dividend to 63 cents per share from 57 cents per share. REUTERS/Sebastien Pirlet/Files (BELGIUM - Tags: BUSINESS ENERGY) NYTCREDIT: Sebastien Pirlet/Reuters

Agency drags Exxon Mobil to court over oil spill in N’Delta

By Our Correspondent

A federal agency, the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) has dragged Mobil Nigeria Unlimited operators of NNPC and MPN joint venture before a Federal High court in Uyo over breach of laws governing oil spill and other environmental matters.

Om the suit, NOSDRA is accusing the oil giant of contravening Section 6(3) of the agency’s Act 2006, especially as it concerns environmental standards.

In a writ of summons filed at the Federal High Court in Uyo in a case between NOSDRA and ExxonMobil made available to newsmen in Uyo, counsel to the Federal Agency, Charles Atebo and Gboyega Oyekanmi argued that the purported clean up carried out by ExxonMobil ignored section 6(a) of Regulation 25; Oil Spill Recovery, Clean-up, Remediation and Damage Assessment Regulation of 2011.

NOSDRA noted that any clean up attempt without regard to international standard amounts to an exercise in futility and a nullity carried in contravention of the aforementioned regulation.

“The Defendant’s outright refusal to submit its clean-up plan and remediation report for the plaintiff’s prior approval amounts to flagrant contravention of section 10 (1) -(4) and 37(1)-(2) of S.I. No.26 of 2011; Oil Spill and Oily Waste Management Regulation, 2011”.

“The Defendant’s failure to clean up the shorelines; deal with mobile oil and remove bulk oil from the sand beaches in line with stipulated regulatory standards amounts to a serial contravention of section 9,10 and 11 of S.I. 25 of 2011; Oil Spill Recovery, Clean up, Remediation and Damage Assessment Regulation 2011.

“The Defendant had in its clean-up operations stored oily wastes from spill impacted areas beyond 60 days in contravention of the above mentioned section of the law.”

The defendant’s failure to deploy containment measure(s) and /or recover ?any free-phase oil outside the Qua Iboe Terminal fence allowed the tide to sweep away most of the oil trapped there with time, depositing them at unknown destinations resulting in a secondary impact”.

“The Defendant’s failure to release reports of the over flight conducted by the company despite the Plaintiff’s request for a copy of it was a deliberate attempt to frustrate the operations of the Joint Investigation Team’s visit to the areas impacted by the oil spill incident and this is a flagrant violation of Section 2 of S.I. No. 25 Oil Spill Recovery Regulation of 2011”.

The (Plaintiff) therefore prayed that the Defendant be compelled by the court to pay the cumulative sum of N10,000,000.00 (Ten Million Naira) only as penalty for contravention of both the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (Establishment) Act 2006 and it’s Regulations.

ExxonMobil is also expected to forthwith submit its remediation report in line with relevant sections of the law on oil spill and waste management.

The Court however warned that in default to an appearance by the Defendant within 30 days after service, the Plaintiff may proceed therein and judgment may be given in the absence of the defendant.

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