Ogoniland: Shell pays $180m yearly for cleanup amidst corruption allegation


Amidst allegations of corruption trailing the clean-up of Ogoniland, the Shell Petroleum Development Company is to pump in $180 million every year for the exercise for five years totalling $1 billion

By Maureen Chigbo

THE Shell Petroleum Development Company, SPDC, in Nigeria appears to be keeping its promise to contribute in the cleanup of the Ogoniland, which was ravaged by oil pollution amidst allegations that the federal government is not following due process in recruiting contractors for the exercise

The SPDC is to contribute $1 billion and will pay $180 million yearly for five years. So far the organisation has been on track.

Shell Nigeria’s payment came after the United Nations Environment Programme report which state that 10 out of the 15 investigated sites which SPDC records show as having completed remediation, still have pollution exceeding the SPDC (and government) remediation closure values.

The study found that the contamination at eight of these sites has migrated to the groundwater. In January 2010, a new Remediation Management System was adopted by all Shell Exploration and Production Companies in Nigeria. The study found that while the new changes are an improvement, they still do not meet the local regulatory requirements or international best practices.

The study concludes that the environmental restoration of Ogoniland is possible but may take 25 to 30 years.

However, the recruitment process for the contractors doing the cleanup has been mired in controversy. There are allegations that no fewer than 16 unqualified companies are handling the remediation exercise in Ogoniland and that the Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project, HYPREP, flouted its own rule in awarding the contracts.

The federal government of Nigeria has been quick to deny the allegation. Realnews reports that on Wednesday in Abuja, top officials of the federal government along with that of the HYPREP and the 21 companies refuted the allegation at an interactive meeting with newsmen.

According to them, the contractors have the required competencies – they are registered with Corporate Affairs Commission, CAC, to carry out business in Nigeria; they also have technical partners overseas with requisite experience and they have showed us that they have capacity to deliver on those projects. These are the necessary requirements for a company to qualify to bid.

Suleiman Hassan Zarma, minister of Environment, said, “We have 21 contractors today, we had 16 and those 16 were within the threshold of the ministerial board, so they were dealt with at ministerial tenders board level. So, those whose file are coming up now are those who are above the ministerial tenders board, so they had to go to federal executive council for approval and that we secured in the first sitting of March 20, 2019,” Zarma said.

Zarma added that the federal government was very committed to the total restoration of livelihood in Ogoniland, and has put in place adequate monitoring outfits to ensure total compliance of contractual agreements.

Appealing to the media to support the government effort to clean up Ogoniland to bring livelihood to the Niger Delta, the minister said: “We have the board of trustees, the governing council, UNEP, the traditional rulers of Ogoniland, youth and women organisations and above all, there are the two chambers of the National Assembly as well as the state government, all monitoring progress being made.

“In addition, both the ministry and HYPREP monitoring teams are very vigilant on what the contractors are doing.”

Similarly, Marvin Dekil, project coordinator of HYPREP, explained that when the agency advertised for expression of interest to the public in national dailies, it ensured all companies that bidded met the requirements before taking federal government job.

Stressing that HYPREP adopted a very robust and transparent process in arriving at all the 21 contractors, Dekil said: “First 16 contractors which were within the approval limit ministry tenders board are those ones on site currently working and the last five that had to go to FEC for approval are the ones we are having this kickoff meeting for today.

“To start with, when we advertised for submissions and expression of interest, we made it very clear, according to the laws of Nigeria, that there are certain requirements referred to as mandatory requirements for any company that would want to participate in the federal government projects.

“What are these mandatory requirements? Registration with CAC is one, PENCOM, NSITF, ITF, tax clearance, IRI; these are requirements that you must have to participate in the process.”

Realnews reports that the UNEP report, the first of its kind of extensive study to gauge the extent of damage in Ogoniland, is aimed at reconciling the community with their exploiters in a long drawn battle that have seen their kith and kin brutally murdered by the Nigerian state egged on by the oil companies. There is the case of the brutal murder of the Ogoni five and another 10 under controversial circumstances in the 1980s.

This was followed by the hanging of Ken Saro Wiwa, rights activists and leader of the Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People which attracted international opprobrium for the country during the late General Sani Abacha regime.

According to the UNEP report, “Ogoniland has a tragic history of pollution from oil spills and oil well fires, although no systematic scientific information has been available about the ensuing contamination”. UNEP’s field observations and scientific investigations found that oil contamination in Ogoniland is widespread and severely impacting many components of the environment.

Even though the oil industry is no longer active in Ogoniland, oil spills continue to occur with alarming regularity. “The Ogoni people live with this pollution every day. As Ogoniland has high rainfall, any delay in cleaning up an oil spill leads to oil being washed away, traversing farmland and almost always ending up in the creeks. When oil reaches the root zone, crops and other plants begin to experience stress and can die, and this is a routine observation in Ogoniland,” UNEP said.

– May 16, 2019 @ 14:50 GMT |

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