Wednesday, 4th October 2023

Shell’s dis-investment in Niger Delta should not instigate human rights abuse — AI

By Sulaimon Salau
04 June 2023   |   3:10 am
The Federal Government has been urged to ensure that Shell’s planned sale of its operations in the Niger Delta does not lead to a further deterioration in human rights in a region blighted by decades of oil pollution.

Shell Oil

The Federal Government has been urged to ensure that Shell’s planned sale of its operations in the Niger Delta does not lead to a further deterioration in human rights in a region blighted by decades of oil pollution.

Amnesty International, in a new report, obtained by The Guardian, recommended a series of actions to help protect the rights of people that may be affected by Shell’s planned disposal of its onshore oil interests in the Niger Delta, reportedly worth about $3 billion.

The Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited – Joint Venture (SPDC JV) is one of Nigeria’s largest oil producers.
Reports alleged that Shell now intends to sell both its stake in SPDC JV and its operating subsidiary in a deal involving its staff, facilities and infrastructure. This includes 263 producing oil wells, 56 producing gas wells and a network of 3,173km of pipelines.

Amnesty International has documented grievous and enduring human rights abuses resulting from oil contamination in the area, where Shell has operated since the 1950s.

The group said that it is concerned that the proposed sale will deny people already harmed access to adequate remedy, and potentially expose many more to future abuses.

The Head of Business and Human Rights, Amnesty International, Mark Dummett, said: “For decades, spills have damaged the health and livelihoods of many of the Niger Delta’s inhabitants.

Shell should not be allowed to wash its hands off the problems and leave. Shell has earned billions of dollars from this business and it must make sure that its withdrawal does not have negative human rights and environmental consequences.

“By exercising appropriate oversight on Shell’s sale, Nigeria’s new administration has a unique opportunity to demonstrate its determination to uphold and protect the human rights of its citizens, including their rights to an adequate standard of living, clean water, and health. We are also calling for an effective remedy for people whose rights have long been abused.

“We urge the new government, under President Bola Tinubu, to ensure Shell’s sale does not end or limit the company’s liabilities. As a condition of sale, it should require Shell to provide a full assessment of all existing pollution in the Niger delta, ensure it has provided satisfactory remediation for any damage, and that local inhabitants’ concerns about the sale process are fully appraised and addressed.

“The government should consider requiring Shell to act as a guarantor to ensure any purchaser is capable of making good and remediating damage caused by any future spills and that any buyer is committed to transparency, environmental compliance, consultations with communities, and limiting greenhouse gas emissions.

“Of course, rather than finding buyers and wringing the last drops of oil from a region so long blighted by the industry, the better option would be remedying the harms caused, and phasing out production.”

Meanwhile, Shell has disputed allegations that it has acted irresponsibly in the Niger Delta, saying it complied with regulations. It has previously pointed to improvements it has made in recent years in response to preventing and cleaning oil spills, investments in infrastructure, oil anti-theft measures, and increased transparency in its reporting of spills.

“Shell is not uniquely responsible for the devastating oil pollution that blights the Niger Delta. There are other actors, including the federal and state authorities. They too have an obligation to ensure that Shell’s divestment does not lead to further human rights harms,” the report stated.