By John Donovan
Since we have a regular visitor to our Live Chat facility who is in a state of denial about Shell’s track record in Nigeria, I have put together a collection of articles and other information to enlighten them.
EXTRACT: Royal Dutch/Shell (RD SC), which produces half of Nigeria’s oil, admitted Thursday that it “sometimes feed conflict by the way we award contracts, gain access to land and deal with community representatives.” The statement was in response to a critical independent report commissioned by the firm that reported warned mounting violence could force the firm to completely abandon onshore operations by 2008.
EXTRACT: To gain a greater understanding of conflict in the delta and of its role in solving it, Shell recently commissioned a report by an external consultancy group. The main findings, leaked a few days ago, may be embarrassing news for the oil giant, but it confirms what environmental and human rights campaigners have claimed all along: Shell has had a corrupting and destabilising influence on the region.
EXTRACT: Nigeria is probably the most graphic example of the “oil curse”, the link between oil and corruption, conflict and poverty in developing countries.
EXTRACT: In the Niger Delta, oil remains the major cause of crisis since the inception of this administration five years ago. A 93-page report that was released in December 2003 gave credence to this as it indicted the Royal Dutch/Shell Group. The survey which was conducted by a Lagos-based WAC Global Services which comprised conflict resolution experts, also criticized Shell for escalating civil strife in the region.
EXTRACTS: LAGOS (Reuters) – The corporate behaviour of Royal Dutch/Shell in Nigeria feeds a vicious cycle of violence and corruption, contributing to the theft of its crude oil, according to a leaked report funded by the oil giant.
Shell executives acknowledged the company had inadvertently fed the violence, saying it was difficult to operate ethically in the Niger Delta and that its attempts at community development “had been less than perfect”.
EXTRACTS: Evidence amassed by a team from Friends of the Earth (FoE) and passed to The Observer will place further pressure on the beleaguered oil giant. According to eye witnesses, significant oil spillages close to communities have not been cleaned up by Shell or the Nigerian authorities, despite promises of action.
The previous day a Shell report was published in which the company admitted that it has inadvertently fuelled strife, poverty and corruption through its activities in Nigeria. ‘Sometimes we feed conflict by the way we award contracts, gain access to land and deal with community representatives,’ the company said.
EXTRACT: “Shell’s business practices in the Niger Delta have destroyed our environment, our farmland and our fisheries. Oil spills are not cleaned up and gas flares dominate the sky line. The people in Nigeria are not benefiting from Shell’s presence in our country – we are paying the price.”
EXTRACTS: Friends of the Earth executive director Tony Juniper said: “Shell is currently under investigation for overstating its oil reserves, but this report shows the company has for many years also been overstating its social and environmental performance.
Many suffer ill-health, pollution and environmental damage as a result of Shell’s pursuit of profits.
EXTRACT: The production of oil, discovered in the Niger Delta 40 years ago, is having a devastating affect on Nigeria’s largest wetland region. Families live among the oil fields, breathing in methane gas and coping with frequent oil leaks in Africa’s largest oil exporter. Oil giant Shell gets 10% of its oil from the Niger Delta and is failing to invest in its infrastructure to prevent pollution, says Friends of the Earth in a new report Behind the Shine.
EXTRACT: Oronto Douglas, from Friends of the Earth Nigeria, who is travelling to Shell’s AGM said: “Shell’s business practices in the Niger delta have destroyed our environment, our farmland and our fisheries. Oil spills are not cleaned up and gas flares dominate the sky line. The people in Nigeria are not benefiting from Shell’s presence in our country – we are paying the price.”
EXTRACT: LONDON (Dow Jones/AP) — Royal Dutch/Shell Group Monday reiterated a commitment to end the process of flaring off natural gas from oil projects in Nigeria by 2008.
(*ANOTHER BROKEN PLEDGE)
“The once beautiful land is no longer a source of fresh air and green vegetation. All one sees and feels now is death.”
EXTRACT: Mutiu Sunomu, Shell’s production manager, says that up to 60,000 barrels of the company’s crude is stolen a day. Although he denies that the company tolerates such theft, which often profits powerful local leaders, he accepts that “it is strange that the thieves seem so familiar with our asset base [of pipelines and wellheads]”.
EXTRACT: “This region is synonymous with oil, but also with unbelievable poverty,”: “”The world depends on their oil, but for the people of the Niger Delta oil is more of a curse than a blessing.”: Human rights and environmental groups have long criticized the practices of Shell, the oldest and largest of Nigeria’s oil producers. As a result of a stinging internal report in 2003 that said Shell, whether intentionally or not, “creates, feeds into or exacerbates conflict…” Sunday 1 January 2006
EXTRACTS: But a week later, a different villager showed up with his own crew and said he was sent by Shell to conduct the cleanup. Furious villagers believed someone in Shell’s middle management had made a deal giving him the contract — instead of the man they chose — in return for a cut of the budget. They physically stopped him and his crew from working. The man left. The oil sat there, soaking deeper into the soil and slowly oozing over the yellow booms Shell had put out to contain it.
Then, people in Iwhrekan say, at 4 a.m. on Oct. 28, the man sent by Shell came back with a group of inebriated soldiers he’d collected at a local hotel. Residents say the soldiers fired indiscriminately, wounding one teenager, set fire to four houses and two cars, and detained more than a dozen young men. Hundreds of people fled into the bush. The town council chairman, Daniel Oweh, says he was badly beaten; he still has fading bruises on his chest and arms. “They said they had come in relation to the spillage contract and that [the Shell-appointed contractor] would kill everyone if he doesn’t proceed,” Mr. Oweh said.
EXTRACT: FORMER Shell chairman Sir Philip Watts helped to organise and pay for a virtual private army in the oil rich deltas of Nigeria, according to legal documents seen by the Financial Mail on Sunday.
Letters bearing Watts’ signature have him ordering what are called ‘spy police,’ some to be equipped with semi-automatic weapons and wearing Shell insignia on their uniforms to identify them as ‘supernumaries’ under the oil company’s banner.
In one, dated 1 December, 1993, Watts thanks the inspector-general of police for his co-operation ‘in helping to preserve the security of our operation’ and requests 1,400 ‘spy police’.
Spokesman Simon Buerk said the company had no choice but to accept the ‘spy police’ because it was illegal in Nigeria to hire private security. ‘This is the only means to protect your people and operations from criminals, who are often well armed and dangerous.’ However, it was decided not to equip them with semi-automatic weapons.
EXTRACTS: This image of Shell as a sensitive, caring company mocks the evidence. At the heart of Shell’s oil reserves scandal is the desire for profit and the elaborate mechanisms that it nurtured in collaboration with corrupt military dictators over the years to ensure that its operations yield enormous dividends at the expense of ordinary Nigerians.
Shell has powerful friends in Nigeria’s government. In the mid 1990’s, the company worked closely with the late dictator, General Sani Abacha, to suppress the Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People, a grassroots environmental and minority rights organization led by Ken Saro-Wiwa, who was later executed by the regime. Human Rights Watch investigators linked Shell officials to gross human rights violations committed by government troops at the time.
EXTRACTS: In the Niger Delta, Shell and other foreign oil companies have been flaring gas and flouting environmental regulations for decades. Only when activists such as my father, Ken Saro-Wiwa, began drawing attention to the practice and their environmental record did those records come under a wider public scrutiny. It will be 10 years in November since my father was murdered for daring to expose the complicity between Shell and the Nigerian military dictatorship to exploit the oil reserves of my Ogoni community.
Yet despite local and international criticism, Shell has yet to be held accountable for its environmental record in Nigeria. Just this past week, it announced a postponement of its oft-repeated promise to end gas flaring in Nigeria by 2007.
EXTRACTS: A PRIVATE intelligence firm with close links to MI6 spied on environmental campaign groups to collect information for oil companies, including Shell and BP.
The Sunday Times has seen documents which show that the spy, German-born Manfred Schlickenrieder, was hired by Hakluyt, an agency that operates from offices in London’s West End.
Schlickenrieder was known by the code name Camus and had worked for the German foreign intelligence service gathering information about terrorist groups, including the Red Army Faction.
Schlickenrieder continued working for Hakluyt until 1999. He made a film on Shell in Nigeria called Business as Usual: the Arrogance of Power, during which he interviewed friends of Ken Saro-Wiwa, the Nobel prize nominee, who was hanged by the military regime in 1995 after leading a campaign against oil exploration.
Schlickenrieder sent a letter to a Body Shop executive saying he had been researching the activities of Shell in Nigeria, and asked about plans for further activities.
EXTRACTS: Royal Dutch Shell has admitted it has subcontracted work to companies run by Nigerian militant activists involved in a violent ethnic insurrection in 2003 that shut 40 per cent of the country’s oil output.
The activists in question also have links to a rebel group, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (Mend), that has attacked Shell oil facilities this year, shutting down over a fifth of oil output in the world’s eighth largest exporter.
Opening paragraph Wikipedia article “Petroleum in Nigeria” as of 15 March 2008:
“The extraction and drilling of petroleum in Nigeria is the largest industry and main generator of GDP in the West African nation which is also the continent’s most populous. Since the British discovered oil in the Niger Delta in the late 1950s, the oil industry has been marred by political and economic strife largely due to a long history of corrupt military regimes and complicity of multinational corporations, notably Royal Dutch Shell.”
THE SHELL INTERNAL REPORT LEAKED TO US AND PASSED TO THE NEWS MEDIA: PEACE & SECURITY IN THE NIGER DELTA
BBC News: Shell admits fuelling corruption
*Comment in brackets added by John Donovan