Oil-for-Guns Program Leaves Nigeria Feeling 'Shell-shocked'
August 19, 2013
Rob Davies / This Is Money: The Daily Mail & World Bulletin / News Desk
Oil theft in Nigeria cost Shell Oil £160 million in the last set of quarterly results. In response, the Anglo-Dutch firm sought government help to deal with the fragile security situation. Shell lobbied the British Government to send millions of pounds of weapons to Nigeria. Now it has been reported that the weapons may have fallen into the hands of militants guilty of human rights abuses. In other news, Shell has closed its offices in Egypt -- due to threats of violence.
Shell in Nigerian Arms Controversy as Campaigners Accuse It of Doing Little to Prevent Weapons Falling into the Wrong Hands
Rob Davies / This Is Money: The Daily Mail
LONDON (August 16, 2013) -- Shell lobbied the Government to send millions of pounds of weapons to Nigeria that may have fallen into the hands of militants guilty of human rights abuses, a report has warned.
Oil theft in Nigeria contributed to a £160 million bill in Shell's last set of quarterly results and the Anglo-Dutch firm has sought Government help to deal with the fragile security situation in the West African county. That total also includes deferred oil and gas production as a result of pipeline shutdowns caused by criminal activity, and the blockade of the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas plant.
But sending weapons to Nigerian security forces risks further destabilising a dangerous situation, said campaign group Platform.
The UK has spent close to £12million in military aid to Nigeria since 2001, according to a Freedom of Information request, including on machine guns and other weaponry.
SPDC, Shell's joint venture with the Nigerian government, also provides funding to the Joint Task Force, a military-police squad that helps protect its pipelines and rigs. And according to Platform, Shell lobbied the UK and US governments to increase military aid to Nigeria.
Minutes of a meeting between Shell's Malcolm Brinded and the Foreign Office in 2006 state that Shell was 'keen to see HMG [Her Majesty's Government] looking for further opportunities to assist Nigeria with Niger Delta security and governance'.
The amount of military aid from the Government to Nigeria subsequently increased, helping offset Shell's own costs in Nigeria. But Platform warned that no measures were put in place to prevent arms falling into the hands of militant warlords and human rights abusers.
The group cited local sources who warned it was impossible to tell where weapons provided by the UK to help protect Shell eventually ended up.
'It is common knowledge that soldiers and policemen sell arms to people who need them at give-away price,' said one.
Platform said some weapons even ended up in the hands of rebel groups who have attacked Shell facilities. Government officials were also unable to confirm whether Nigerians who received military training paid for by the Government were screened for human rights abusers.
A spokesman for Shell (up 16.5 p to 2049 p) said SPDC was keen to see the country sign up to international human rights principles.
The spokesman added that security operations in the Niger Delta were a response to 'organised criminal oil theft and illegal refining'.
Sarah Shoraka of Platform said: 'Taxpayers are funding a policy that supports repressive troops and subsidises the operating costs of oil giants like Shell.'
Royal Dutch Shell Closes its Offices in Egypt
World Bulletin / News Desk
LONDON (August 15, 2013) -- Europe's top oil company Royal Dutch/Shell has closed its offices in Egypt for the next few days and restricted business travel there after at least 525 people were killed in a security crackdown.
Shell gave no details on how many staff were affected by the closures nor where the offices were located. A spokesman could not immediately say whether oil installations -- mostly in the Western Desert and Nile delta -- were affected.
"To ensure the safety and security of our staff, Shell offices in Egypt are closed for business today and into the weekend and business travel into the country has been restricted. We will continue to monitor the situation in Egypt," he said in a statement.
Among other big oil companies operating in Egypt, BP had no immediate update to provide. A spokesman for BG, whose offshore LNG operations account for about a fifth of its production and which pulled out 100 expatriate staff and dependents in July, said there was no change to report. "All our people are safe and accounted for, and we continue to monitor the situation," a BG spokesman said.
Swedish home appliances maker Electrolux said on Thursday it had halted all production in Egypt, where it employs about 7,000, due to increasing unrest.
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