Shell Oil employees causing oil leaks for profit in Nigeria: Report

*Dutch documentary reports that Shell employees ordered vandalisation of pipelines to profit from clean-up budgets, reveals the ‘greatest oil disaster in the world is unfolding in the Niger Delta’

Isola Moses | ConsumerConnect

In highlighting the level of economic sabotage and corruption in the downstream sector of the country’s economy, a documentary in the Netherlands television has report that Nigerian employees of the Anglo-Dutch oil company Shell ordered the deliberate vandalisation of oil pipelines for personal gain.

The Dutch television documentary programme Zembla, together with Dutch environmentalist organisation Milieudefensie, has reported in a programme to be aired Thursday that “multiple witnesses declared that SPDC, a subsidiary of Shell, caused the oil leaks.”

Zembla in a press statement summarising an 18-month investigation of various leaks between 2010 and the present day noted “according to sources, Shell employees profit from these intentional oil leaks by pocketing money from clean up budgets.”

The SPDC, according to Zembla, along with the Dutch Embassy in Nigeria, were aware of the accusations but had failed to address them over time.

It was learnt oil spills in Nigeria have a decades-long history, making companies like Shell, whose headquarters is based in the Netherlands, a frequent target of criticism and protest from human rights and environmental groups.

Millions of litres of oil have leaked into the Niger Delta since Shell began oil extraction there in 1958.

The company’s oil spill in the Nigeria Delta region   Photo: Independent

Zembla said the “greatest oil disaster in the world is unfolding in the Niger Delta”.

Shell, however, says that 95 percent of leaks are as a result of sabotage.

The oil firm reportedly denies responsibility for the leaks, which it blames on local criminals and organised gangs in the Niger Delta region of the country.

Still, residents in the Ikarama in the Nigerian state of Bayelsa told Zembla that Shell employees actually encourage local youths in the villages to sabotage pipelines in the area and then split funds allocated for the cleanup.

Washington Odeibodo told Zembla that “if a cleanup is necessary, these same youths are then hired to perform it.”

A former Shell security guard, who claimed to have been responsible for sabotaging pipelines in the past, said Shell supervisors and employees “split the money from the cleanup.”

He disclosed that “the recovery department from Shell sabotages the pipelines. If the cleanup will take seven months, they’ll stop after only three months.”

According to Zembla, one saboteur said they committed the vandalism “out of hunger”.

ConsumerConnect reports Nigeria’s National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) May 2020 said 40 percent of people in the West African nation live in poverty, in a country that ironically, has Africa’s biggest economy.

A recent report on an investigation into the overbearing environmental impacts of oil pipeline vandalism in the country found that in Nigeria, “oil pipeline vandalism has been perpetrated principally by criminal syndicates who are motivated by the desire to loot oil products for material gains.”

Oil pipeline vandalism is also known in Nigeria as ‘oil bunkering’, which is the act of drilling into the pipelines with the intent to steal products for an illegal profit.

In a similar vein, Cees van Dam, a professor of International Business and Human Rights at the University of Rotterdam, said allegations in Zembla’s report were “credible”.

Van Dam in the report was quoted as saying “in the Netherlands, this would certainly be considered a criminal offence.

“Intentional destruction of property, intentional environmental pollution, these are serious issues that no single company would accept from its employees.”

But who really knew about the deliberate socio-economic sabotage in the region? The documentary-maker claimed it was in possession of documents confirming SPDC was aware of the allegations.

Nevertheless, Shell had so far not responded to queries about steps taken to address the issue, added the report.

It noted, however, that “SPDC takes these kinds of accusations very seriously. If we find any evidence that supports these accusations, we will report it to the Nigerian authorities.”

Zembla also stated the Dutch Embassy in Nigeria was also aware of the accusations, which were highlighted for two years, and confirmed by the European nation’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

According to Zembla, former ambassador to the country Robert Petri, who left at the start of 2019, was recorded on video promising residents of Ikarama he would share the information with Shell.

The documentary-maker said “nothing came of the commitment”.

According to Zembla, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs responded that “because of the premature departure of Robert Petri as ambassador to Nigeria, he hasn’t been able to follow through on his commitment.”

His replacement was totally unaware of the allegations against the Shell workers, said the Ministry.

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