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German Minister calls for boycott of Shell

“If you went to the Niger Delta and saw the standard of oil extraction, none of you would use the petrol stations of that oil firm,” he said. He said the company prioritized profit over concern for the environment. “That is unacceptable,” Müller added.

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By John Donovan

Germany’s development minister Gerd Müller attacked the production practices of Shell on Tuesday, suggesting indirectly that German consumers should boycott the companies’ products.

During a speech on Tuesday to the Berlin Chambers of Commerce and Industry (IHK), Müller denounced Shell’s poor regard for the environment, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reported.

He said that during a recent trip to Nigeria, he witnessed the oil production methods. “If you went to the Niger Delta and saw the standard of oil extraction, none of you would use the petrol stations of that oil firm,” he said.

He said the company prioritized profit over concern for the environment. “That is unacceptable,” Müller added. Shell is the major oil extractor in the Niger Delta but Exxon-Mobil, Chevron, Agip and Total are also active in the country.

Environmental activists have long protested Shell’s oil production in the Niger Delta. Amnesty International and other groups released a report in August that stated the oil company had done little to clean up pollution from its oil production. Such production has left at least 10 communities in the area with contaminated drinking water, according to the report.

A United Nations assessment of the pollution in 2011 estimated that it could take up to 30 years to clean up.

Shell has blamed the spills on local villagers who drill holes into the pipelines to steal oil, leaving the pipelines open and causing spills. The company’s figures on the frequency of these incidents have been contested by Amnesty International and Friends of the Earth International.

About 200 business people came to hear Müller discuss Germany’s role in pushing for better social and environmental standards worldwide.

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