By Audrey Gaughran, Director of Global Thematic Issues at Amnesty International
There are currently two competing narratives about oil pollution in the Niger Delta.
The first is that oil companies, particularly Shell, are responsible for massive pollution caused by leaks from their operations and for the failure to clean up spills and protect their infrastructure from damage.
This narrative acknowledges that oil theft and sabotage of oil infrastructure occur and contribute to pollution; however it cautions that theft and sabotage, as causes of pollution, are over-stated by oil companies in a bid to deflect criticism about their environmental impact.
The second narrative claims that almost all spills are caused by oil theft and sabotage and that companies are doing their best to combat this scourge. It goes on to say that the failure to clean up properly is generally due to the communities not letting the oil companies into the area to do the cleanup.