Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) has come out to douse tension and doubt over the fund needed to begin actual clean up of Ogoni areas as recommended by the United Nations (UNEP Report of 2011), saying the first batch of $200 million is ready and intact.
The general manager, external relations of SPDC, Igo Weli, says those searching for the money (about N700bn) in the Federal Government’s 2017 budget may not find it there but in the Joint Venture (JV) budget domiciled with the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) budget, as the JV majority equity holder of 55 percent.
Weli said at the weekend in Port Harcourt that money was not cause of any perceived delay in starting the clean up, but that institutional governance structures were still being put in place. The failures of the past made the stakeholders to take every step carefully to ensure that this time nothing must go wrong to require starting afresh, he said.
The general manager said the delay so far was to get things right this time, not due to absence of money. HYPREP and the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP) had last week disagreed over the delay in the clean up of Ogoni environment. While HYPREP pleaded for time to determine the remediation strategies to be adopted, MOSOP contended that implementing the report on the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) had become an image-laundering tool.
Weli said Shell and the JV were only required to pay $900 million in five years, not $1 billion, noting that other stakeholders including refineries were obligated to pay $100 million in five years to make it $1 billion. That is why the JV budget for 2017 is $180 million, not $200 million because $10 million had been provided earlier and others are to provide the rest.
Explaining the details to a group of newsmen who demanded answers in the face of fresh tensions and accusations of Shell attempting to return to Ogoni through the backyard, the GM said it was not true that Shell was sneaking back to Ogoni. Instead, he said the UNEP Report required the oil major to carry out remediation works at the sites and this required re-assessment of about 15 sites for update. This could be what some natives termed sneaking back.
He said the institutions mandated by the UNEP Report such as the Governing Council and the Board of Trustees (BoT) had been inaugurated. The new Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project (HYPREP) that is to manage the process and spend the fund came into action in April 2017 and has been working hard to set the plan of action that must be approved by the GC and BoT.
He said the failed HYPREP was under the Ministry of Petroleum is now under the Ministry of Environment.
Throwing more light, Manager of SPDC’s Ogoni Restoration Project (ORP), Vincent Nwabueze, said majority of the UNEP Report recommendations require multi-stakeholder efforts coordinated by the federal government agencies.
He said over the last six years, SPDC has taken action on all recommendations directed to it by the UNEP Report and has completed a majority of these recommendations with examples such as 15 SPDC JV sites specifically mentioned in the UNEP Report having been re-assessed and where further remediation was required, those sites have been remediated and certified by government regulators.
He said SPDC has completed a comprehensive review of its oil spill response and remediation techniques, and made a number of improvements in line with industry best practices, and that the company welcomes FG efforts to progress the implementation of the UNEP Report including the creation of the Governing Council and Board of Trustees of the Ogoni Restoration Fund in August 2016 to oversee and fund the clean up process.
He said, “SPDC applauds the ground breaking ceremony in February 2017 of the Integrated Contaminated Soil Management Centre (ICSMC) which will help create employment opportunities in Ogoni areas and facilitate the acquisition of skills in the treatment of contaminated soils. SPDC commits to supporting HYPREP Project Coordinator, Marvin Barinen Dekil, in the clean up process. SPDC has made available the $10m take-off fund for HYPREP as part of its commitment towards funding its share of the Ogoni Restoration Fund.
SPDC remains fully committed to supporting and contributing its share to the Fund within the appropriate framework and governance structures. We encourage all relevant stakeholders to also remain committed in contributing their share to the Fund.”