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Extract from page 6 of an Amnesty International document headed: “A CRIMINAL ENTERPRISE? SHELL’S INVOLVEMENT IN HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS IN NIGERIA IN THE 1990s”

Under Executive Summary.


In the 1990s Shell was the single most important company in Nigeria and in 1995 pumped almost one million barrels of crude oil a day, roughly half of Nigeria’s total daily oil production. Nigeria’s oil exports made up 95.7% of the country’s foreign earnings so were vital to the economy.

The country and the company had a shared interest in ensuring that the oil kept owing. Shell and the government were business partners, running the highly pro table Nigerian oil felds as a joint venture. The two entities were in constant contact. As the chairperson of Shell Nigeria from 1994-7, Brian Anderson, conceded, “The government and the oil industry are inextricably entangled.”

Shell’s Nigerian operations were also of great importance to the multinational’s overall balance sheet. A 1996 internal strategy document revealed that Nigeria was home to the single largest portion of Shell’s entire worldwide oil and gas reserves and that Shell Nigeria had, “access to the biggest low cost hydrocarbon resource base in the Group, with enough oil to sustain production for almost 100 years at current levels.”

The Ogoni protests not only deprived Shell and the government of access to wells in that area, they also threatened to disrupt the flow of a pipeline that carried oil from other regions across Ogoniland. The government in Abuja was also worried that the protests would spread throughout the oil-producing region, where other communities had similar grievances to the Ogonis.

According to an internal Shell memo, General Sani Abacha, who seized power in a coup in November 1993, “seemed to find it unbelievable that such a small tribe could have the effrontery to cause such a lot of trouble.”

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