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The Nigerian unit of Royal Dutch Shell doesn’t have any plans to return to exploring or producing oil in Ogoniland in Nigeria’s Rivers state after it ceased operations there in the 1990s, Igo Weli, General Manager, External Relations, at the Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) said this weekend at the release of Shell Nigeria’s 2019 Briefing Notes.
SPDC, as operator of the SPDC Joint Venture, carried out exploration and production operations in Ogoniland from the 1950s until the early 1990s. Production ceased in 1993 following a rise in violence, threats to staff, and attacks on facilities, Shell said.
Shell is being dragged through the courts over its alleged complicity in abuses of human rights in Nigeria’s military suppressing protests in the oil-rich Niger Delta in the 1990s, especially in the Ogoniland area.
The SPDC joint venture has produced no oil or gas in Ogoniland since 1993, although one of Niger Delta’s main pipelines, the Trans-Niger Pipeline (TNP), passes through Ogoniland. Shell’s Nigerian unit transferred operatorship of the JV’s assets in Ogoniland to the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC), the production and exploration arm of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), in 2012.
Last November, Amnesty International called on Nigeria, the Netherlands, and the UK to start investigations into Shell “over its role in a swathe of horrific crimes committed by the Nigerian military government in the oil-producing Ogoniland region in the 1990s.”
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In the early 1990s, the Ogoni people in the Niger Delta protested against the pollution in their land coming from oil operations, and those protests were crushed by the Nigerian military. Shell has always denied claims that it has been involved in any way in these events.
Earlier this month, a Dutch court ruled that it had the jurisdiction and would hear a damages lawsuit against Shell brought by the widows of activists executed by Nigeria’s government after the protests in Ogoniland in the 1990s.
“The women believe their husbands would still be alive today were it not for Shell’s relentless pursuit of profit, which encouraged the Nigerian government’s bloody crackdown on protesters even when it knew the deadly human cost. Shell might now face questioning in a court of law about what they knew and how they contributed to this horrifying event in Nigerian history,” Mark Dummett, Amnesty International’s Head of Business and Human Rights, said, commenting on the court ruling from May 1.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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Tsvetana is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and SeeNews.