ACTION ALERT: Shell Eyes Oil Reserves in Iraq; Turns a Blind Eye to Pollution in Nigeria

November 21st, 2011 - by admin

Reuters & Shell & Amnesty International USA – 2011-11-21 22:48:55

Shell Pulls Out of Kurdistan Oil Talks

LONDON (November 17, 2011) — Royal Dutch Shell has pulled out of oil-development talks with the Kurdistan Regional Government in an effort to protect lucrative investments in southern Iraq, the Financial Times reported on Thursday, citing people familiar with the discussions.

The newspaper did not say what projects Shell had been seeking to invest in.

Up to now, big oil companies like Shell and US rival Exxon Mobil, who have operations in southern Iraq, have been reluctant to enter Kurdistan, a semi-autonomous region in northern Iraq, because the Baghdad government has barred those who invest there from the south. However, last week the Kurdish government announced it had signed a deal with Exxon, prompting threats from Baghdad that Exxon may lose its licence in the south.

Oil executives say the big companies are waiting to see how the spat plays out before proceeding but that if Exxon is able to keep its operations in the south, while also accessing new reserves in Kurdistan, Shell and others will likely seek to follow. Executives in the region told Reuters Shell was one of a number of big international oil companies that had held exploratory talks with the Kurdish Regional Government in the past year.

Shell has oil field deals in the south and a $17 billion gas deal with the Iraqi government cleared its last major hurdle on Tuesday after it was approved by Baghdad’s council of ministries. Royal Dutch Shell and the Kurdish Regional Government were not available for immediate comment.

(c) Thomson Reuters 2011. All rights reserved.

Iraq Natural Gas Joint Venture Gets Final Approval

BAGHDAD (November 15, 2011) — The Iraqi cabinet today approved an agreement with Royal Dutch Shell (“Shell”) and Mitsubishi Corporation, forming a joint venture to gather raw gas from three major oil fields, adding an important domestic energy source for Iraq and offering the potential for gas exports.

The joint venture, held 51% by Iraq’s South Gas Company, 44% by Shell and 5% by Mitsubishi Corporation., will be called Basrah Gas Company (BGC) and will gather raw gas that is currently flared because of a lack of infrastructure to collect it.

Shell will provide project management and technical expertise with the intention to facilitate the learning and development of Iraqi staff to progressively assume key positions in the management of the company.

“Capturing this gas will create a reliable supply of energy for Iraq while at the same time reducing greenhouse-gas emissions”, said Shell Chief Executive Officer Peter Voser. “This also sends a positive signal about the investment climate in the country”.

The joint venture will collect and process raw gas from the Rumaila, Zubair and West Qurna 1 fields in the southern part of the country. The primary market for the gas will be Iraq, but any surplus can potentially be exported.

Some 700 million standard cubic feet of gas is currently burned off each day in southern Iraq. At current prices, the gas is worth about $1.8 billion per year. Burning it creates as much greenhouse gases each year as 3.5 million cars.

In September 2008, Shell signed a preliminary agreement with the Iraqi Ministry of Oil for a gas-gathering project. The agreement established the commercial principles to establish a joint venture between Shell and the South Gas Company. An official signing ceremony will be scheduled in the near future.

In Iraq Shell is the operator of a consortium providing technical assistance in the development of the Majnoon field.

Shell: Own Up and Pay Up to Clean Up the Niger Delta
Simon Billenness / Corporate Action Network, Amnesty International USA

Please take action telling Shell to own up, pay up, and clean up their mess!

(November 10, 2011) — In the United States, the Occupy Wall Street movement has spotlighted the big banks for their role spreading toxic investments and contributing to economic deprivation. Meanwhile in Nigeria, Amnesty’s new report, The true tragedy: delays and failures in tackling oil spills in the Niger Delta reveals how spills of toxic crude oil from the operations of big oil companies, like Shell, have harmed people’s health and devastated their livelihoods.

In August and December 2008, two major oil spills disrupted the lives of the 69,000 people living in Bodo, a town in the Niger Delta. Three years on, Shell has yet to take full responsibility for the spills, clean up the damage, and provide compensation to the people whose lives have been affected.

Interviewed for the Amnesty International report, Bodo resident Regina Porobari described how she used to trade fish while her husband used to be a fisherman. After the August 2008 spill, the fish in their creek died or were too polluted to eat. Even the harvest from her vegetable garden has shrunk. “Many families can’t afford to buy food with enough nutrients…. Everyone is struggling.”

The lives of tens of thousands of people have been directly affected by the spills and the ongoing pollution. Many are worried about their health. Those, like Regina Porobari, who fished or farmed have had their livelihood decimated while local food prices have soared.

Shell’s failure to clean up in Bodo contradicts both international human rights standards and Nigerian law. Had Shell immediately stopped the spills and cleaned up the oil, the company could have prevented the devastation to the Bodo community. In fact, it is Shell’s failure to comply with Nigerian regulations for a timely and proper clean-up that represents the true tragedy of its Bodo disaster.

As tragic as it is, the Bodo disaster is but one of a pattern of oil spills in the Niger Delta. In August 2011, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) published the report “Environmental Assessment of Ogoniland.”

In this first ever independent scientific study of oil pollution in the region, UNEP found that the people of the Niger Delta have been exposed to widespread and severe contamination for decades. This pollution has affected the community’s drinking water. One local fisherman explained: “People used to collect [the rain] for drinking water. But today even the rainwater is contaminated. It looks black.”

Amnesty International has already called on the Nigerian government to ensure clean up and compensation of communities in the Niger Delta. Amnesty is now calling on Shell to contribute the full $1 billion identified by UNEP as the start-up amount needed to establish an independent fund to clean up the pollution in Ogoniland.

We are also petitioning the oil company to carry out a comprehensive clean-up in Bodo in consultation with the community. Finally, we are urging the company review its entire operations in the Niger Delta and ensure appropriate clean up, community consultation, and compensation payments.

Shell Oil: Clean Up Your Niger Delta Spills
Amnesty International USA

1. Shell and other oil companies are abusing the human rights of hundreds of thousands of people in Nigeria

Energy companies have been extracting oil from the Niger Delta, a resource-rich area in southern Nigeria, for decades. Oil spills, dumping, and gas flaring by companies like Shell Oil have devastated the region — destroying the livelihoods of residents, reducing access to clean water and food, and causing health problems. 

2. Shell has squandered multiple opportunities to clean up its act

Shell, which reported profits of $7.2 billion for July-September 2011, initially offered just a few thousand dollars and 50 bags of rice, beans, sugar and tomatoes as relief for the disaster. A recent UN report makes it clear that Shell is failing to adequately clean up the devastation and pollution its operations have caused. 

3. Amnesty is working to defend the human rights of the people in the Niger Delta

Amnesty International has spent years gathering irrefutable evidence, through efforts like geospatial technology and extensive local interviews, to get an accurate picture of the human rights abuses occurring in the Niger Delta. We have urged the Nigerian government to enforce and strengthen existing regulation. And now, we are demanding that Shell establish a $1 billion cleanup fund to help restore the Niger Delta. We will continue this work until Shell takes real action. 

Support our work to uncover and stop human rights abuses. Become a member of Amnesty today.

Shell will not comprehensively address the impact of the spills without significant, sustained pressure. Amnesty has the tools to compel Shell to put people before profits — will you stand with us?

Tanuka Loha
is the Director AI’s Demand Dignity Campaign