15 September 2015, Port Harcourt — Global group of energy and petrochemicals companies, Shell has warned that implementation of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) report on Ogoniland might be jeopardized and its $1 billion commitment to the clean up wasted due to illegal oil bunkering.
In direct response to the UNEP report, Shell had set up the Ogoni Restoration Project Team, and initiated action to implement all the 22 actions directed to it by the UNEP report, out of which 16 have been completed.
According to company’s external relations manager, Mr. Igo Weli, five actions are currently ongoing including the relocation of right-of-way encroachers, decommissioning plan as well as Shell’s contribution to the $1 billion Ogoni Restoration Fund.
According to Shell, widespread pipeline sabotage, crude oil theft and illegal refining are the main causes of environmental damage in Ogoniland and the wider Niger Delta today. Shell Companies in Nigeria will continue to be at the forefront engaging interested stakeholders and seeking sustainable innovative ways to resolve the problem
He told journalists in Port Harcourt at the weekend that the company is pleased with the decision of President Muhammadu Buhari, to commence the implementation of UNEP report in Ogoniland.
He said for the clean up to succeed, effort must be made to end illegal oil theft and artisanal refining which causes widespread pollution of the environment.
According to him, there is no use spending $1 billion when the environment will be degraded. Igo said: “However, as the UNEP report stated, treating the problem of environmental contamination within Ogoniland merely as a technical clean-up exercise will ultimately lead to failure.
Ensuring long-term sustainability is a much bigger challenge – one that will require coordinated and collaborative action from all stakeholders” “This must include putting an end to the widespread pipeline sabotage, crude oil theft and illegal refining are the main causes of environmental damage in Ogoniland and the wider Niger Delta today.
Shell Companies in Nigeria will continue to be at the forefront engaging interested stakeholders and seeking sustainable innovative ways to resolve the problem.”
He explained that out of the 470 incidents documented along Shell right of way in Ogoniland, 368 have been remediated, 32 at various stages, while there are 70 outstanding of which 40 are in Bodo.
He revealed that Shell has completed the physical verification of assets in Ogoniland covering delivery and flowlines, manifolds, flow stations, compressor stations, gas plants and burrow pits.
Adding about 300 Bodo community youths have been engaged to be involved in the clean up of the area. In addition, he said Shell has funded a regional water supply project at Eleme which provides access to potable water for about 30,000 indigenes across five clans from 103 outlets, as well as conducted primary healthcare outreach to the communities during, which about 35,000 adults and 15,000 children benefitted from the outreach.
However, the chairman of the Bodo mediation process, Professor Ben Naanen, has allayed Shell’s concerns, by giving assurance that ogoni communities are working assiduously to achieve zero tolerance for illegal oil bunkering and artisanal refining.
Naanen told The Guardian in Bodo that Shell should not use illegal oil bunkering as an excuse to fulfill its commitment to the clean up process. he advised the company to fulfill its obligation concerning the various global memorandum of understanding reached with Ogoni communities particularly as it pertain to the surveillance of its pipelines.
The former MOSOP leader said the deployment of drones to check illegal oil theft might be counterproductive if government fails to address the lack of economic opportunities in the Niger Delta which has in turn resulted in people providing alternative sources of livelihood for themselves through oil theft and artisanal refining.
Government should emulate Shell community pipeline surveillance approach which has effectively refused oil theft not only in Bodo, but other parts of Ogoni. Use of drones are not unnecessary and not needed in Ogoni.
The economy needs of the people must be addressed. The government should use the money for drone for development activities for oil producing communities,” said Naanen.
*Kelvin Ebiri – Vanguard