Against the backdrop of Shell Petroleum Development Company’s (SPDC) plan to divest from the country’s oil and gas sector, the Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) has called on the Federal Government to halt the multi-national oil company’s attempt to run away from its mess without proper clean-up of the Niger Delta.
The foremost environmental group, in a statement made available to newsmen in Benin City, alleged that Shell’s plan to sell its land-based, shallow offshore oil fields and infrastructure in the Niger Delta region was a plot not to clean up the Niger Delta.
The statement signed by the director of programmes, Mike Karipo also called on the Nigerian government to protect local communities’ interest within the divestment process of oil and gas multinational companies operating in the region.
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Karipo alleged that it was the characteristic nature of the firm, having almost drained the region dry of oil and gas resources and engaged in ecocide because of its reckless operations in the region now seeks to walk away with billions of dollars in its kitty.
“Whilst ERA/FoEN, has been at the forefront of campaigns to leave the oil in the soil and to halt oil and gas extraction, it strongly deplores the insensitivity of the transnational corporation that has over the last few years been divesting from the region.
“Collecting huge payouts for the oil fields and infrastructure sold and leaving local communities to deal with the devastation and destruction of the ecosystem, their lives and livelihoods.
“Shell recently sold OML 17 to HEIRS Holding in a deal worth well over half a billion dollars and absolutely nothing was set aside for the remediation and restoration of the damaged ecosystem of communities around this area.
“As oil fades away as the energy source of choice across the world, it is imperative that all oil impacted ecosystems across the country should be cleaned and restored as much as possible to the state they were before the commencement of oil mining activities. Anything short of this is unacceptable”, he said.
He, however, called on civil society organizations and local communities to immediately put in place negotiating teams that will participate in any discussions and decision on the sale of Shell’s environmentally destructive assets.
He noted that the participation in the negotiation would ensure that the billions of dollars that would accrue from the sale would be utilised for the remediation, compensation and restoration of our environment.
Karipo also called on the civil society organizations and communities to explore opportunities for filing cases in Nigeria and other relevant jurisdictions to demand that they be given a seat at the table during the sale processes on the basis of the ecological debt that Shell owes the environment and local communities.
He further noted that they should demand setting aside funds to remediate and restore damaged ecosystems resulting from Shell’s self-regulated operations in Nigeria over the last 70 years.