Shell, MOSOP at odds over environmental cleanup in Ogoni, dispute settlement sought

Shell Petroleum Development Company, SPDC, has faulted the position of the socio-cultural organization in Ogoni, Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People, MOSOP, that the oil giant has been “irresponsible” in its approach to clean-up the environment whenever spills from its facilities occur in Ogoni. MOSOP said Shell was economical with the truth when the Dutch oil giant said it conducted cleanup of oil spills in Ogoniland responsibly, alleging that Shell is only “brutal and irresponsible company”.

Addressing a meeting of the Federation of Ogoni Women’s Association, FOWA, at Ebubu in Eleme local government area of Rivers state, President of MOSOP, Fegalo Nsuke said Shell’s comments on about 9 oil spills which occurred in Ogoni over the past one year and some months suggest that Shell has not changed its “tactics and ecological war on Ogoni and was a clear testament that the company will never change nor support the people”.

Nsuke told the women that “as far as MOSOP is concerned, we have not seen anything responsible in Shell. All we see and can remember Shell for are its oil spills and divide and conquer tactics, military repression of the Ogoni people and a very brutal approach to sustain their dominance over the people” “Shell cannot tell us that sponsoring state terrorism against the Ogoni’s peaceful demand for justice amounts to responsible business practice, Shell cannot tell us that its role in the murder of some 4,000 Ogonis during the repressive years of the 1990s including the 1995 excursions amounts to responsible business practice” Nsuke said.

“Shell’s conduct in Ogoni had been racist and promoted a system which did not hold oil companies accountable for endangering the lives of people. Oil companies in Nigeria are free to endlessly flare poisonous gasses and pollute the lands without punishments.

Because the Nigerian laws are so weak not to punish for those crimes does not mean Shell’s practices are responsible” The MOSOP leader further said the activities of Shell has sent thousands of people to early graves. Nsuke said responsible business practices should solve social problems and not cause deaths, noting that there is absolutely no circumstance under which cutting people’s lives short can be responsible business practice. He called on the Nigerian authorities to consider a review of its petroleum industry laws vis-a-vis the operational guidelines to prioritize the protection of the people and environment and severely punish oil companies like Shell whose activities hurt the people and the environment.

A statement from Shell in response to calls for the possible replacement or re-routing of the Trans Niger Pipeline, TNP, in Bodo, Gokana Local Council Area of Rivers State due to repeated spills, said “the Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited (SPDC), operator of the NNPC/SPDC/TotalEnergies/NAOC Joint Venture, conducts its operations in a responsible manner with due regard for the environment.”

Shell said the work is organized through a proactive pipeline and flowline integrity management system. The system installs barriers, where necessary, and recommends when and where pipeline sections should be replaced to prevent failures.

“In 2022, for example, around 27 kilometres of pipelines and flowlines were replaced. Additionally, by the end of 2022, a total of 311 new steel cages were installed around critical infrastructure nodes, including 38 that were upgraded with CCTV,” the statement said. It went on to say that “Over the last 12 years, the total number of operational hydrocarbon spills and the volume of oil spilled from SPDC JV’s operations into the environment has reduced significantly.

“Unfortunately, along with other operators in Nigeria, SPDC continues to face the twin challenges of pipeline sabotage and crude oil theft, each of which endangers people’s lives, the environment and deprives our country and our people of billions of dollars of tax revenue.

“Whenever spills occur, SPDC supports a regulator-led Joint Investigation Visit (JIV) by a Joint Investigation Team (JIT) to establish the cause, volume, extent, and impact of the spilled oil,” he said. According to the statement, “from reports published after JIVs, most oil spills in the Niger Delta region continue to be caused by crude oil theft, the sabotage of oil and gas production facilities, and illegal oil refining. Illegal connections used for the purpose of crude oil theft activities continued to be a challenge”, the statement said.

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