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Nigerian Oil Spill Agency Directs Exxon to Clean Up Akwa Ibom Spill

By Sarah Kent and Drew Hinshaw LONDON--Nigeria's National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency, or NOSDRA, has directed Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM) to clean up oil sighted on Nigeria's shoreline near the company's Qua Iboe oil terminal while investigation into the source of the spill is completed, a spokesman for the agency said Thursday. A team made up of members of NOSDRA, the State Environment Ministry, Exxon and other stakeholders have conducted a joint investigation into the extent of the impact on Nigeria's shoreline and both Exxon and NOSDRA have taken samples of the oil for analysis, the spokesman added. The spill was first sighted on the shoreline east of the U.S. oil giant's Qua Iboe terminal Sunday, though the source of the oil has yet to be identified. Exxon's Nigerian subsidiary, Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited said it dispatched an emergency response team to the shoreline as soon as it heard of the issue to collect samples of the substance and determine where it came from. The latest spill comes as Nigerian lawmakers consider multi-billion-dollar oil spill fines for the Exxon's competitors. Royal Dutch Shell PLC's (RDSA) Nigerian unit faces a fine of up to $5 billion after an offshore rig in December leaked 40,000 barrels of crude. In March, regulators recommended a $3 billion fine for Chevron Corp. (CVX) after one of the company's offshore natural gas platforms caught fire, in what environmentalists described as the worst gas spill in African history in terms of volumes released. Lawmakers will decide on the ultimate amount of fine as early as September. Meanwhile, those fines come as the country's petroleum ministry--source of four-fifths of Nigeria's state income--courts major oil companies to explore offshore. "We're dependent on oil revenue, so government has to find a balance between the search for profits and public health," said President Goodluck Jonathan's international media specialist Ken Saro Wiwa Jr. Write to Sarah Kent at sarah.kent@dowjones.com and Drew Hinshaw at Drew.Hinshaw@wsj.com Subscribe to WSJ: http://online.wsj.com?mod=djnwires

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