Nigerian Oil Ministry officials held a meeting with the representatives from ExxonMobil to give them the ultimatum to contain the leak, AFP reported on Tuesday.
The oil spill charges against ExxonMobil comes as the United States is already embroiled in its worst environmental disaster after BP’s Deepwater Horizon collapsed, gushing about a million gallons of crude into the Gulf of Mexico.
According to the Ministry, since May 1, about 300 barrels of crude have leaked from one of ExxonMobil offshore platforms in southeast Akwa Ibom State.
If the US company fails to prevent the leak, it will face punitive sanctions, the ministry announced.
Idris Musa, head of Nigeria’s oil spill response agency, said the Ministry is not satisfied with ExxonMobil’s performance in the containment and clean-up operations.
“It is the clean-up process that we are not really satisfied with and that is why we are drawing their attention to the fact that subsequently if that kind of situation occurs, they will not escape sanctions,” Musa warned.
He further pointed out that there have been 2,405 cases of oil spills in the operations of foreign oil companies in Nigeria since 2006.
Nigeria is the biggest oil producer in Africa and its light crude has one of the best qualities in the world.