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$2.8billion Divestment: CSOs Demands Shell To Address Environmental Impacts Before Exiting N/Delta

By Obiabin Onukwugha

Civil Society Organisations, have stated that the Shell Petroleum Development Company, SPDC, must address the myriad of environmental problems such as Ecological, Health, Economic and Social impacts arising from its operations before exiting the Niger Delta.

Shell had on the 16th of January 2024, announced on its website and social media X platform that it had reached an agreement to sell its Nigerian onshore subsidiary, SPDC, to a consortium of domestic and international oil companies for a total net fee of $2.8 billion. However, the finalization of the transaction is dependent on the approval of the Nigerian Federal Government.

Reacting to the development, the CSOs, in a joint statement made available to NatureNews on Thursday, pointed out that Shell has persistently engaged in irresponsible and reckless hydrocarbon extraction practices resulting in severe ecological, health and economic consequences.

The CSOs made up of the Health or Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF), We The People, Corporate Accountability & Public Participation Africa, Kebetkache Women Development and Resource Centre, Policy Alert and Niger Delta Alternatives Convergence, decried Shell’s move to sell off its onshore assets in Nigeria despite clear protestations by communities and civil society organizations. They observed that the transaction follows similar moves by Chevron, Total-Energies, and ExxonMobil to sell off “oil assets” in the Niger Delta.

“The federal government should immediately place a moratorium on all oil company divestment (or sale of assets) in the Niger Delta, pending the ascertaining of issues of community concern.

“The federal government to immediately produce a framework and guide for how oil companies disengage from areas where they have operated. This guide should be developed by a multi stakeholder group including communities and civil society organizations. The divestment (or sale)
framework must contain the following requirement for oil companies and the Nigeria authorities:

“A scientifically developed post hydrocarbon impact assessment report that establishes the exact ecological and livelihoods impacts of oil extraction.

“A health audit of people located near extraction sites, and others exposed to oil contamination and gas flaring. This audit will aim at unravelling the negative health impacts of exposure to hydrocarbons.

“A detailed plan and costing for remediating the ecological, livelihood and health impacts of extraction.

“The establishment of independent frameworks for remediating all identified impacts and compensation to the impacted individuals and communities.

“Posting of funds in a designated account commensurate for the cleanup of impacted ecosystems and restoration of livelihoods,” the statement read in part.

The CSOs faulted the Nigerian government and its regulatory agencies for failing to come up with a guide, policy or blueprint establishing the conditions and modalities for oil company divestments.

“Divestments, including the latest by Shell, have happened haphazardly and in manners solely determined by oil companies, paying little or no attention to the broader ecological, economic and social impacts that their activities have bequeathed to communities.

“It is pertinent that Shell owns up to its responsibility for the ecocidal damage of territories they have exploited. This means full payment for the remediation and restoration of the polluted areas as well as reparations to the host communities. They cannot walk away from the grave and irreparable harm they have caused.

“In accordance with the foregoing, we strongly condemn the attempt to sale off onshore oil assets by Shell. We demand that before selling any such assets, the company must address many cases and concerns about the ecological, health, economic, and social consequences of its operations in the Niger Delta,” the statement read.

On its part, the Environmental Rights Action/ Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) has called on the Nigerian government to apply caution on Shell’s divestment plans and ensure it pays for its environmental crimes in the Niger Delta.

Executive Director of ERA/FoEN, Barr. Chima Williams faulted Shell for trying to run away from its crimes even with the uproar that has greeted its divestment plns in affected communities and among civil society organizations.

“As an organization that has tracked the activities of multinational oil companies for decades we insist that the decision of Shell to sell off its onshore facilities to domestic companies, with the intention of remaining in Nigeria to conduct their business offshore, is a deliberate attempt to evade the liabilities the company has incurred overtime, “ he said.

He also pointed out that Shell should not be allowed to abandon its onshore facilities to domestic companies without cleaning up the damage they have caused on the environment, and the cost to locals who have been impoverished by their business activities.

He said: “These communities who have played host to Shell for decades have been left in abject poverty, with several degrees of damages to their health and environment, while Shell explores their resources to enrich foreign coffers. Shell should not be allowed to sell off its facilities and abandon the liabilities they owe these communities.”

 

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