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Shell’s ‘Nigerian Goodbye’: A Legacy of Spills, Lawsuits, and a $2.4 Billion ‘See Ya!’

Posted by John Donovan 16 Jan 24

In a move that’s less ‘farewell’ and more ‘good riddance’, Shell is kissing goodbye to its Nigerian onshore oil and gas operations. After almost a century, Shell is packing up its toys – a sprawling network of wells, pipelines, and the occasional oil spill – and handing them over to a consortium for a cool $2.4 billion. Because when you’ve pioneered an industry with a track record of spills and lawsuits, why not cash in one last time?

This ‘strategic exit’ is apparently all about reducing risks (because onshore spills are so last century) and streamlining the portfolio. Zoe Yujnovich, Shell’s director for production, put it as “simplifying our portfolio.” But let’s be real – it’s more like simplifying their headache.

But don’t worry, Shell isn’t leaving Nigeria entirely. They’re just moving their chess pieces to the offshore and LNG sectors, where the grass is greener and the oil spills are… well, less visible.

Now, about the buyers – Renaissance Africa Energy. A mix of local and international flair, they’re taking on the challenge of managing what’s been a hotbed of piracy, theft, and environmental woes. Shell, ever so responsible, assures us that these new owners will be “accountable” for all those past ‘whoopsies’.

The deal itself is as complex as Shell’s history in Nigeria. They’re getting $1.3 billion upfront, with a potential extra $1.1 billion, and even offering loans to help the buyers keep the oil flowing. How generous!

Nigeria’s oil production has been sliding down a slippery slope, with OPEC cutting their quota. But Shell, ever the optimist, sees this as the perfect time to shift focus and leave the onshore mess in someone else’s lap.

Environmental activists, like Daniel Leader from Leigh Day, are not thrilled. They see Shell’s exit as a dodge from cleaning up their legacy of spills. Nnimmo Bassey from the Health of Mother Earth Foundation minces no words: “They cannot walk away from the virtually irreparable harm they have caused.” But hey, in the world of big oil, it’s always easier to leave the cleanup to the next guy, right?

So as Shell turns the page on its Nigerian onshore chapter, one can’t help but wonder: Is this a strategic retreat or just a slick move to slide out of responsibility? Only time (and perhaps a few more lawsuits) will tell.”

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