Oil majors think they have seen it all in the Niger Delta but they have pointed at one new trend; strange litigation.
Sources close to their top managers say this has been tabled as a trend. They say they a pattern where litigants seem to get easy victories from courts for hefty amounts.
It was gathered that such development is one of the causes of divestment going on in the industry or rush to offshore.
IOCs want Nigerians to pause and ask why there is a surge in litigations and hefty awards to such litigants. One of them said judgments are flying right and centre against oil companies and billions of naira are awarded to claimants.
The source said it is a new development in the industry. “Some spills cannot be traced. So, are there willing judges for quick judgments? It looks like a new racket. But judgment is judgment. Do you think that is why IOCs are fleeing, divesting?”
The source said he wanted Nigerians to ponder over these discreet signals in the industry at a time many IOCs are divesting or moving away from land to deep waters. “Please pay attention to this new trend. It is very recent and it is a new danger,” he said.
At a Shell briefing in Port Harcourt last week, Igo Weli, Shell’s GM for Public Affairs said he did not have the mandate of his organisation to speak on litigations but admitted that divestment is happening and it has a cause. “It is not ordinary. We must begin to ask ourselves, why do companies divest?”
He said those stealing crude oil and damaging assets in the process were hurting Nigeria, not just Shell.
He explained: “SPDC is in 170 countries, and they are not divesting in those countries. We must ask ourselves, why is SPDC divesting in Nigeria? There are things happening here that are not happening in other countries.”
Another official that helped to explain with slides on ‘Curbing the menace of Illegal Refineries and Crude theft’ said the impact is huge. He mentioned them as loss of revenue, crash of value of Naira to other currencies, soot, criminality, inability to meet OPEC quota in the face of high prices for crude oil, spending on clean up, and mass deaths.
Officials said if you do an overfly over oilfields in the Niger Delta, that you cannot hold back tears in what is now the new face of the oil region from the sky.
It was gathered that the oil thieves have devised new methods to convey their products along the routes. For instance, sometimes, a lady will be ahead and gives money to officers at checkpoints and describes the coming vehicle. When that vehicle gets there, it is motioned to go ahead.
Those that die are not the real owners, they hinted. They recruit them around the country now, that they are going to work in the oil field. When they come here and die, they join the growing list of missing persons in Nigeria.
Those who laugh it off as a Shell thing have been told to hold it there. Igo Weli said it is not a Shell problem alone. “Being in 170 countries, Shell has more options than Nigeria. We must realise that IOCs are investors. Will it be okay for them to invest to discover, drill and pump oil, only for a group of criminals under whatever guise to just take it? The practice is more now, and nobody seems to care.”