EFCC Files Charges Against Shell, Eni, Nine Others

EFCCThe Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has filed a three-count charge of conspiracy and corruption against two multinational oil firms, Shell and Eni, for their roles in the alleged Malabu $1.1 billion scandal.

Nine others were also charged along with the two multinational companies before an FCT High Court in Abuja on Thursday.

Those charged alongside Shell and Eni are a former Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Mohammed Adoke, and a former Minister of Petroleum, Dan Etete, as well as a businessman Aliyu Abubakar.

In the first count of the charge, Shell Nigeria, Nigeria AGIP Exploration Ltd., Eni S.p.A, a former Director of SNEPCO, Ralph Wetzels, two Italians who are former directors in AGIP, Casula Roberto and Burrafato Sebastiano, Douzia Louya Etete popularly known as Dan Etete, Mohammed Adoke, Aliyu Abubakar and Malabu Oil & Gas Ltd. allegedly conspired sometime in 2011 to commit an offence of official corruption.

In the charge sheet signed by Jonson Ojogbane for the EFCC, the offence was said to be contrary to Section 26 of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act of 2000 and punishable under Section 12 of the same act.

In the second charge, Dan Etete, Mohammed Adoke, Aliyu Abubakar and Malabu Oil & Gas were alleged to have corruptly received the sum of eight hundred and one (801) million dollars in respect of OPL 245 from Shell Nigeria, Nigeria Agip Exploration Ltd. and Eni S.p.A.

The new charges were said to be part of an international collaboration to ensure that all those who partook in the alleged $1.1 billion OPL 245 scandal were brought to justice.

The OPL 245 oil block is currently owned by the Nigerian Government after a temporary court order granted on the basis of an EFCC application.

Shell and Eni have since appealed the order asking that the block be returned to them.

We’ll Continue To Protect Nigeria’s Oil Assets – President Buhari

Muhammadu-Buhari-London-Anti-Corruption-SummitPresident Muhammadu Buhari has restated the determination of his administration to continue to protect the country’s oil assets and installations.

Speaking at a meeting on Tuesday with the Director of Global Upstream of Shell Oil Company at the State House, Abuja, President Buhari said he will leave a legacy of improved infrastructure, particularly in the power sector, and also ensure better security in the Niger Delta.

“It is only by doing this that investor morale and confidence will return, and the economy will be positioned on the path of growth,” He said.

According to a statement by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, President Buhari commended Shell for their faith in the economy and staying power.

The president also gave assurances on some issues of concern raised by the company especially the protracted issue of cash calls.

The minister of Budget and Planning, Udoma Udo Udoma, some weeks ago, revealed that the Federal Government has not been able to fund its counterpart Joint Ventures Companies, JVCs, and cash calls totaling $6 billion for several months due to revenue shortfalls.

The President assured other oil firms that the Federal Executive Council will soon consider a proposal for the easing of unpaid arrears owed by the government.

President Buhari said the security of oil infrastructure will continue to be priority of his administration which will include the dialogue with the stakeholder-communities in the Niger Delta.

He, however, urged oil companies to take more responsibility in the protection of oil installations to complement the efforts of Nigerian Navy in the region.

The Shell director, Andrew Brown, revealed that the company has resumed oil exportation through the Forcados terminal following its restoration.

He also commended the anti-corruption stance of President Buhari’s administration as well as the efforts to streamline and stabilize the economy for long term projects.

No Action From Shell On Ogoniland Pollution

ShellShell have done almost nothing to ease oil pollution in the Ogoniland area of the Niger Delta, three years after a landmark UN report called for a $1 billion dollar clean-up.

This is part of the report released by Amnesty International on Monday.

A United Nations report in 2011 had accused the Government and oil major, Shell of profiting from decades of crude production which have left the people with nothing but land too polluted for farming or fishing.

The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) report had recommended a major clean up of the area and called on the oil industry and Nigerian Government to contribute $1 billion.

According to Audrey Gaughran of Amnesty International, Shell has so far escaped the necessity to clean up the damage it has caused.

Amnesty International says although Shell staff returned to Ogoniland in April of 2013, for the first time in two decades to study how best to decommission their decaying assets in the region, a move the company described as a key step in complying with the UNEP report, there was no evidence that the company was serious about actually cleaning up the area.

Nigeria is Africa’s largest oil producer, pumping out roughly two million barrels per day.

Shell To Begin Negotiations With Host Communities Over Oil Spillage

Compensation talks will begin on Monday between lawyers of Royal Dutch Shell and 15,000 Nigerian villagers who say their livelihoods were destroyed by oil spills from pipelines operated by the company.

The villagers launched a suit against Shell at the High Court in London in March 2012, seeking millions of dollars in compensation for two oil spills in 2008 that polluted the waterways of the Bodo fishing communities in the Niger Delta.

The legal action is being closely watched by the industry and by environmentalists for precedents that could have an impact on other big pollution claims against oil majors.

A vast maze of mangrove swamps and creeks, the Niger Delta is home to communities of subsistence farmers and fishermen living alongside the multi-billion-dollar oil industry.

“They want to be fairly compensated for their losses from the time the spill took place until the oil is cleaned up and the Bodo Creek is returned to its natural state,” said Martyn Day of the Nigerians’ London law firm Leigh Day.

A Shell spokesman confirmed that talks would begin on Monday between Leigh Day and lawyers for the Anglo-Dutch firm. They will take place in Port Harcourt, and will be attended by representatives of the Bodo communities.

Shell accepts responsibility for the Bodo spills but the two sides disagree about the volume spilt and the number of local people who lost their livelihoods as a result. A previous round of compensation talks broke down in 2012, before the lawsuit.

“CRIMINAL ACTIVITY”

“We’re hopeful that an acceptable agreement can be reached with the Bodo community,” the Shell spokesman said. “Such an agreement would provide fair compensation, as well as a way forward on cleaning up the entire area affected by oil spills, whether caused by the two 2008 operational incidents, or by criminal activity.”

Citing independent experts, Leigh Day says up to 600,000 barrels of crude were spilt, which would make it one of the worst spills in history. The volume spilt in Alaska in the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster was put at 257,000 barrels.

But Shell, citing a report by a joint investigative team not controlled by the firm, puts the volume spilt in the two original incidents at just 4,100 barrels.

Shell accepts that a significantly higher volume of oil was spilt later but says this was due to other factors including sabotage. It has also complained that its clean-up teams were at times denied access to sites by local groups.

A Shell spokesman said the talks would focus on the number of people affected, the actual financial loss suffered, and the amount of time for which those affected should be compensated.

Amnesty International Hails Judgement Against Shell

Amnesty International believes that the decision by a Dutch court shows that justice is possible – but is extremely hard to achieve if you are taking on a massive multi-national .

In a statement, reacting to the court judgement, amnesty international says, “Clearly its good news that one of the plaintiffs in this case managed to clamber over all the obstacles to something approaching justice,”

“However, the fact that the other plaintiffs’ claims were dismissed underscores the very serious obstacles people from the Niger Delta face in accessing justice when their lives have been destroyed by oil pollution.

Amnesty International has documented widespread oil pollution in the Niger Delta that seriously undermines the human rights of the people there.

 

Farmer Records Victory Over Shell In Oil Spill Case

A Dutch court ruled on Wednesday that Royal Dutch Shell can be held partially responsible for pollution in the Niger Delta, saying the company should have prevented sabotage at one of its facilities.

Shell's office in Port-Harcourt
People walk past Dutch oil giant Shell's sign board in Nigeria

The district court in The Hague ordered Shell to pay unspecified damages to one farmer, but dismissed four other claims filed against the Dutch parent company.

Four Nigerians and interest group Friends of the Earth filed the suit in 2008 in the Netherlands, where Shell has its global headquarters, seeking reparations for lost income from contaminated land and waterways in the Niger Delta region.

The court backed Shell’s argument that the spills were caused by sabotage and not poor maintenance of its facilities, as had been argued by the Nigerians.

“Shell Nigeria should and could have prevented this sabotage in an easy way,” the ruling said.

“This is why the district court has sentenced Shell Nigeria to pay damages to the Nigerian plaintiff.”

The Nigerians said they could no longer feed their families because the region had been polluted by oil from Shell’s pipelines and production facilities.

The pollution is a result of oil spills in 2004, 2005 and 2007, they said.

It is the first time a Dutch-registered company has been sued in a domestic court for offences allegedly carried out by a foreign subsidiary.

Reactions Trail Judgement

The company, reacting to the judgement afterwards, said “it was “happy” with a verdict issued by a Dutch district court, which acquitted it of the bulk of pollution charges filed by Nigerian farmers”.

The court said “its wholly owned subsidiary Shell Nigeria was responsible for oil spills but that they had been caused by sabotage, not poor maintenance of its facilities”.

The farmer who won compensation, 52-year-old Friday Akpan, who has 12 children, said he was very happy with the judgment.

“I am not surprised at the decision because there was divine intervention in the court. The spill damaged 47 fishing ponds, killed all the fish and rendered the ponds useless. I had loaned the money from the agriculture loans board and had no way to pay it back,” he told Reuters in Port Harcourt.

“Since then I have been living by God’s grace and on the help of good Samaritans. I think this will be a lesson for Shell and they will know not to damage people’s livelihoods.”

Friends of the Earth spokesman Geert Ritsema said they would appeal against the acquittals “because there is still a lot of oil lying around. These sites need to be cleaned.”

Compensation To Be Negotiated

Royal Dutch Shell said on Wednesday it was “happy” with a verdict issued by a Dutch district court, which acquitted it of the bulk of pollution charges filed by Nigerian farmers.

“We will pay compensation. We didn’t lose the case. It was not operational failure. The leak was the consequence of sabotage,” Allard Castelein, Royal Dutch Shell’s vice president for environment, said in comments after the verdict was read.

“Shell Nigeria should and could have prevented this sabotage in an easy way,” the ruling said. “This is why the district court has sentenced Shell Nigeria to pay damages to the Nigerian plaintiff.”

Castelein said Shell will negotiate the amount of damages with the farmer, but that an appeal could postpone the outcome of those talks.

Bonga spill: Shell says $5 billion fine is unjustified

Royal Dutch Shell on Wednesday said it broke no laws in Nigeria that would warrant a $5 billion penalty from a 40,000-barrel oil spill in December.

Shell in December closed operations at the offshore Bonga production platform following a leak from an export line feeding a tanker. The company said preliminary estimates indicated 40,000 barrels of oil spilled, making it one of the worst in Nigeria in decades.

Nigeria’s National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) proposed a $5 billion fine, which represents about $125,000 per barrel spilled, to the National Assembly.

NOSDRA said the spill was caused by a failure in Shell’s export pipe and that the it badly affected approximately 950 square kilometers of water surface and a great number of sensitive environmental resources.

“It has a direct social impact on the livelihood of people in the river areas whose primary occupation is fishing,” the NOSDRA maintained.
Bonga accounts for around 10% of monthly oil flows from Nigeria. Production restarted in January.

Oil spills are often onshore in Nigeria with many caused by sabotage or thieves tapping into easily accessible pipelines. Several communities have taken Shell to court over a failure to clean up spills.

A United National Environment Programme report last year said Shell was not doing enough to clean up spills and maintenance of the infrastructure was inadequate.

Shell said the Nigerian penalty was without merit.

“We do not believe there is any basis in law for such a fine,” a Shell spokesman was quoted by The Wall Street Journal as saying. “Neither do we believe that Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Co. has committed any infraction of Nigerian law to warrant such a fine.”

Shell said fallout from the spill was minor and the response to the December incident was sufficient.

NOSDRA needs to justify the proposed penalty to members of the National Assembly before it’s approved.

Shell workers kidnapped over demand for electricity

About 1,000 protesters from the Nembe Island community in Bayelsa state on Tuesday blocked waterways in the Niger Delta to prevent Shell workers from reaching oil rigs.

A youth leader from the community, Jonathan Omongu told the BBC that the protest was a warning to the oil giant that the community wanted electricity, potable water other basic amenities.

Some workers aboard three seized Shell boats are also being held, but would not be harmed, Mr Omongu said.

The southern oil-rich region is one of the most under-developed in Nigeria.

For several years bombings and kidnappings by militants in the Niger Delta – fighting for more rights and a share of oil wealth for local people – paralysed the oil industry.

Nearly three years ago, most militants accepted a government amnesty, but four soldiers and four policemen were reportedly killed by unidentified gunmen in the creeks around Nembe Island last month.

Shell has four flow stations and two oil rigs in Nembe Island – one of the largest communities in the oil-producing zones of Bayelsa state where about one million people live.

According to the REUTERS, 14 members of Shell staff are being held by the protesters on the boats.

Our reporter contacted Shell Corporate head office, Lagos on the phone but was only able to reach a receptionist who could not connect the call to the media manager to confirm the incidence.