"The Government have clearly sent the message to Shell, ‘you can do whatever you want’. Fortunately due to protest, the refinery remains unconnected to the gas field. If, as Shell planned, gas had been flowing by now, we would potentially all be dealing with a gas leak and explosion.”
Nigeria's National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency recommended the fine to the country's MPs this week. The fine would be the largest Shell has ever received in Nigeria and amount to about $125,000 for each barrel of oil split in the Bonga field.
By contrast, BP is facing a maximum fine of $4,300 per barrel in the US following the Gulf of Mexico. Shell reacted angrily to the recommendation. "We do not believe there is any basis in law for such a fine," the company said. "Neither do we believe that Shell has committed any infraction of Nigerian law to warrant such a fine."
The Anglo-Dutch company estimated that about 40,000 barrels were spilt at Bonga, making it Nigeria's worst offshore spill in more than a decade. However, Shell disputes claims that any of the oil reached the shore and says that its response to the spill was rapid. The fine will need approval by Nigeria's parliament.