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Shell’s Nigerian subsidiary has committed US$1 billion for the development of the Niger Delta, the Vice President of the federal government, Yemi Osinbajo, said. Osinbajo is on a tour in the Delta, aiming to appease through dialogue the militant groups that have crippled Nigeria’s oil industry over the last couple of years.
The money will be released in US$500-million annual installments, to be used to provide clean drinking water, conduct health impact assessments, and supply “remediation technologies” to local communities, who tried to sue Shell for failure to clean up an oil spill in the area. The case was heard by the London High Court, which ruled that it is outside its jurisdiction: Shell Petroleum Development Company is registered in Nigeria, so a Nigerian court should be the one to hear the case.
The federal government has demonstrated determination in its attempts to appease the Niger Delta militants who have been blowing up pipelines for two years now, inflicting substantial damage to the infrastructure and cutting Nigeria’s oil production to a level that granted the country exemption from the OPEC oil production cut agreement.
Recently, perhaps thanks to the efforts to come to a mutually beneficial solution to the problems of the oil-rich Delta, the attacks have become rarer, with the government pledging support for the impoverished communities living there.
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Now, during his tour of the Delta, the Vice President – and acting President – reiterated President Buhari’s commitment to amnesty for the militants and to the vocational training of the locals to ensure employment and pull them out of poverty.
Meanwhile, rumors about President Buhari’s health are rife: he has not been seen in public for a month, and although official sources insist he is in good health, there is speculation that he has gone to London for medical treatment, with some recalling the fate of another Nigerian President, Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, who died in office after extended medical treatment abroad, which the government attempted to conceal at the time.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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Irina is a writer for the U.S.-based Divergente LLC consulting firm with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.