The Comprehensive Shell Remediation Plan for the Niger Delta

Royal Dutch Shell and its joint venture Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) recently announced sweeping plans to clean up all areas of the Niger Delta where they operate, compensate local communities for past injuries, and institute a local stakeholders program that will contribute to lifting the region out of poverty.

The Comprehensive Shell Remediation Plan for the Niger Delta (CSR-ND) has been steadily developing behind closed doors since Shell CEO Peter Voser took the helm in 2009, but was fast-tracked in response to public pressure to include an immediate cessation of deep-water drilling in the Niger Delta.

“Shell is proud to be the first international petrochemical company to embark on a rehabilitation and compensation program of any significant scale,” says Shell spokesperson Bernadette Hopma. “The Gulf of Mexico gush has made CSR-ND especially timely.”

“By anticipating and proactively sidestepping the inevitable storm of company-unfriendly rule-changes that follow on major environmental and human calamities of a certain variety, we are building our company’s ongoing resilience well into the future,” says CEO Peter Voser.

Voser noted that Shell is the largest oil producer in the Niger Delta, which is Africa’s equivalent of the Mississippi River Delta.

In 2009, Nigeria had 2,000 active spills. These were certainly not all due to Shell’s operations, but the amount of oil released into the continent’s wetlands has been steadily on the rise with production increases by a number of companies.

“Recent events in the Gulf of Mexico demand change,” says Hopma. “The expected hurricane of regulation and policy change across industry, resulting from the negligent practices by one pair of companies especially, means that all of us need to try to push harder in the interests of long-term survival.”

Highlights of the Shell and SPDC CSR-ND Plan include:

The immediate cessation of deepwater drilling off the coast of Nigeria until the conclusion of a full independent safety review by our local government partners with international oversight.

The immediate cessation of gas flaring, with all open flares converted by 2012 into energy sources for tariffless local consumption. An investment of $8 billion by 2012 followed by $1 billion per annum for 10 years to attempt partial environmental restoration of the Niger Delta. The work force carrying out this mission will be 97 per cent locally sourced and trained.

A $45 million “truth and reconciliation process” fund to assess and award reparations for perceived injustices since 1958, when Shell first started commercially exporting oil from the region.

The establishment of a $4 billion fund earmarked for compensation for perceived injustices.

The establishment of a local stakeholder program that gives decision-making and veto capacity over new and ongoing projects to communities affected by Shell and SPDC projects worldwide, pending more formal control at the level of local government. A commitment to cap oil production at current levels until 2015, and then to gradually reduce production to 10 per cent of current levels by 2050, while compensating for this reduction through the development of renewable energy sources.

“At long last the words ‘stakeholder’ and ‘sustainable’ will actually mean something,” says Voser. “CSR-ND means planning not just for short-term profits, but for what actually matters, including the viability of the planet itself.”

Source: Hazmatmag, June 1, 2010;

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