Nigeria – ‘Astonishingly High’ Pollution

Oil giant accused of concealing data on the health effects of two major spills. 

Data gathered among the Bodo community, which was devastated by two huge oil spills in 2008 and 2009, showed levels of pollution were “astonishingly high”, according to a letter by former employee of Shell, Kay Koltzmann.

Holtzmann was the former director in charge of Shell’s project to clean up oil spills in the Bodo community, in the oil-producing Niger Delta region. He accused the company of refusing to make the findings public.

The clean-up project carried out an analysis of the environment in the Bodo creeks in August 2015 “against fierce opposition” from Shell’s subsidiary company, Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria (SPDC). 

“The results from the laboratory were astonishingly high, actually the soil in the mangroves is literally soaked with hydrocarbons. Whoever is walking in the creeks cannot avoid contact with toxic substances… negative long term effects on their health are unpredictable,” he said.

The letter was addressed to the chairman of the Bodo Mediation Initiative, which is sponsored by the Dutch Government and is tasked to ensure the clean up meets international standards.

Shell accepted liability for the 2008 and 2009 oil spills. In 2011, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) published a report claiming it would take up to 30 years to clean the Niger Delta from oil spills. In 2015, Shell agreed to pay £55m to the Bodo community.

Holtzmann called for “immediate action to protect the health of the Bodo residents” and urged for “medical mass screening” to take place, warning against the risk for people exposed to toxic substances by bathing or drinking the polluted water, reported UK-based the Independent

No one could explain the decision to withhold the data from the public.

Further, on April 10th Shell and ENI were forced to deny that their staff had been involved in payments to officials. In 2010 transactions worth $1.3bn were made by Shell and ENI for exploration of the OPL 245 offshore block, but the companies reportedly knew the funds would go to a front company connected to former petroleum minister Dan Etete, reported Lagos-based, the Guardian

Find out more in the Africa Research Bulletin:

NIGERIA – UK: Pollution Claims Blocked
Economic, Financial & Technical Series
Vol. 54, Issue. 1, Pp. 21560C–21562C

OIL AND GAS: Nigeria
Economic, Financial & Technical Series
Vol. 53, Issue. 12, Pp. 21549B–21550C

OPEC TALKS: Oil Price Boost [Free to Read]
Economic, Financial & Technical Series
Vol. 53, Issue. 11, Pp. 21508A–21509A

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Nigeria – Delta Region Infrastructure Targeted

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A newly formed rebel group has repeatedly targeted oil and gas installations in Niger Delta State.

On June 1st the latest in a string of attacks on oil and gas facilities hit two Chevron oil wells in Dibi, Warri North Local Government Area, claimed by a newly formed group the Niger Delta Avengers (NDA), occurring a few days before President Muhammadu Buhari‘s planned visit to the area.

Speculation is that the NDA is made up of powerful ‘unpatriotic’ individuals and the military Joint Task Force is specifically pursuing ex-militant leader Government Ekpemupolo.

NDA on its twitter handle @NDAvengers, said: “With the heavy presence of 100 gunboats, 4 warships and jet bombers, NDA blew up Chevron oil well RMP 23 and RMP 24 at 3. 44 am this (yesterday) morning, ” reported Vanguard.

It marks the third such attack on Chevron facilities in a month. The group has also targeted other Chevron and Shell facilities. In April Shell had to break contractual agreements after an attack on a truck line, and a few days later Chevron shut its Valve Platform following another attack.

The damage to infrastructure, along with a global fall in prices, have brought oil production in the country to a 22 year low, alongside impacting the already strained power network, as the power plants rely on gas supply from the damaged pipelines.

Residents in Oporoza area fled to neighbouring Azama community and have been homeless for a number of days. Chairman of Kokodiagbene community Sheriff Mulade said, “the invasion by soldiers affected the ongoing school certificate examinations…hundreds of students, who ran into the bush because of the invasion, are yet to be accounted for, while the academic session has been disrupted.”

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Oil Spill Ogoniland – CC 2015.

Elders in the region, speaking under the auspices of ‘Concerned Niger Delta Elders’, said that the perpetrators of the attacks were against the pro-development and anti-corruption stance of the Buhari administration, reported Vanguard.

The NDA first appeared in February 2016 after claiming responsibility for an attack on a Shell underwater pipeline, which forced company to halt its 250,000 barrels per day Forcados terminal for weeks. Experts noted the high level of technical expertise present in the attacks.

There has been speculation that the NDA consists of members of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND). Another group, the Red Egbesu Water Lions, also recently emerged and has pledged to join with the NDA, reported ABCNews.

In a statement earlier in April the NDA, on their website, said, “we are a group of educated and well-travelled individuals that are poised to take the Niger Delta struggle to new heights that has never been seen in this nation before,” reported BBC News.

The NDA is the first armed group to emerge in the Niger Delta since ex President Umar Musa Yar’Adua granted an amnesty to militants in the region seven years ago. There were agreements for compensation and security following severe environmental degradation and displacement by oil firms, but the NDA claims these have not been upheld and such trends have continued.

Find out more in the Africa Research Bulletin:

NIGERIA: Military Industrial Complex
Political, Social & Cultural Series
Vol.53, Issue.4, Pp.20979C–20980C

NIGERIA: Chibok Second Anniversary
Political, Social & Cultural Series
Vol.53, Issue.4, Pp.20972C–20974B

NIGERIA: Army ‘Has the Measure’ of Boko Haram
Political, Social & Cultural Series
Vol.53, Issue.3, Pp.20938A–20939B

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