The Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa (CAPPA) has urged the Federal Government to prevent Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited (SPDC) from selling its onshore oil businesses without first remediating and addressing its historical environmental damages in Nigeria.
It made this known in a statement issued by its Media and Communication Officer, Robert Egbe on Wednesday, January 17, 2024, in reaction to reports of Shell PLC’s decision to sell its Nigerian onshore assets to a consortium of local companies for over $1.3 billion.
The group noted that Shell has been trying to offload its troubled onshore oil assets since 2021 and permitting it to do so would allow it to escape alleged liability for its oil spills and other environmental liabilities that have destroyed communities in the Niger Delta, some of which have sparked litigations.
It argued that the company’s sudden claim that maintenance upsurge, incessant theft and increasing lawsuits are now affecting its operation after years of alleged reckless exploration and disregard for the visible plight of host communities spur more suspicion and anger rather than sympathy.
CAPPA also recalled that Shell was one of the pioneer oil companies that have significantly altered the ecological landscape of the Niger Delta part of Nigeria since the 1930s, even before Nigeria got independence, adding that Shell has benefited hugely from the ineptitude of state authorities and loopholes in the country’s environmental governance and policy framework.
Executive Director of CAPPA, Akinbode Oluwafemi, said: “The exit plan of Shell must be firmly opposed in the interest of the communities that have gained nothing and lost everything from its operations over the years.
“At a time when historical damages, such as those committed by Shell, are increasingly being recognized and accountability demanded, it is not only important for the government to compel Shell to take responsibility for its actions but also for well-meaning Nigerians to resist the move by local entities to inherit environmental liabilities they cannot manage.”
Also speaking, Programme Manager of CAPPA, Ogunlade Olamide said: “The people of the Niger Delta are not prepared to add toxic legacies, relics of decaying infrastructures and more conflicts to the social imbalance and poverty that currently seems to be normal to them.
“The lined-up buyer, the Renaissance consortium, which comprises ND Western, Aradel Energy, First E&P and Waltersmith, said to be local exploration and production companies are relatively unknown, while Petrolin, a Swiss-based trade and investment company is feared to continue the atrocities of Shell.”
The group argued that divestment by international standards should strictly follow the principle of informed, transparent, and inclusive decision-making.
It suggested that the government, rather than approving all divestment calls, should implement and enforce measures that ensure that corporations in the extractive industry not only align their operations for sustainable development but also, take responsibility for the environmental impact of their activities.
It charged the Nigerian government to conduct comprehensive asset integrity tests and thorough environmental audits of Shell’s portfolio before any divestment process is concluded.