An NGO, Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN), has asked Shell to be transparent in its planned sale of its land-based and shallow water oil fields and infrastructure in the Niger Delta.
The NGO said this in a statement by its Programme Director, Mr Mike Karikpo, and made available to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Monday night in Benin.
Karikpo, who deplored the oil company’s decision to sell off some of its oil fields, accused it of having “almost drained the region dry of oil and gas resources and engaged in ecocide because of its reckless and unconscionable operations in the region.
“It now seeks to walk away from its crime scene with billions of dollars in its kitty,’’ he said.
He said ERA/FoEN had been at the forefront of campaigns to leave the oil in the soil and to halt oil and gas extraction.
“ERA/FoEN 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. ”
He noted that “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.”
Also, ERA/FoEN Executive Director, Dr Godwin Ojo, said that “Shell owes the environment and the people of the Niger Delta region a huge ecological debt for its reckless operations in the region over the last seven decades.
According to him, Shell is running away from accountability for “its ruinous actions in the Niger Delta region and that amounts to eating your cake and keeping it”.
He called on the Nigerian government to protect local communities’ interest within the divestment process and halt Shell’s attempt to run away from its mess without proper clean up of the Niger Delta.
ERA/FoEN called on civil society organisations and local communities to immediately put in place negotiating teams that would participate in any discussions and decision on the sale of Shell’s assets.
The NGO explained that this would ensure that the billions of dollars that would accrue from the sale would be utilised for the remediation, compensation and restoration of the environment.
“We call on the Nigerian state to ensure that the process of sale of these assets is open, transparent and inclusive to enable communities with ongoing litigation and others with verifiable claims against Shell to participate and monitor the process.
“This is even more relevant in this decade of Ecosystem Restoration declared by the UN 2021-2030.
“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, “it said. (NAN)