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The Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited Joint Venture (SPDC JV) carried out exploration and production operations in Ogoniland from the 1950s to the early 1990s. Operations ceased in 1993 following a rise in violence, threats to staff and attacks on facilities. The SPDC JV has produced no oil or gas in Ogoniland since then.
One of the Niger Delta’s main pipelines - the Trans-Niger Pipeline (TNP) - traverses Ogoniland. The SPDC JV also has five non-producing fields and a network of about 100 wells and associated infrastructure in the region, some of which have been vandalized by 3rd parties.
THE UNEP REPORT
In 2006 the Federal Government of Nigeria commissioned the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to carry out an environmental assessment of Ogoniland. Field work commenced in 2009 and UNEP delivered its report to the government in August 2011.
The report highlighted significant environmental impacts from oil pollution in parts of Ogoniland relating to a variety of causes. It called on the Nigerian government, the oil and gas industry and communities to begin a comprehensive clean-up of the region and take coordinated action to end all forms of illegal oil bunkering, crude theft and artisanal refining of stolen crude oil causing oil contamination in Ogoniland.
Most of UNEP’s recommendations – including the creation of an environmental restoration fund – were directed at the Federal Government and require it to take the lead in coordinating the activities of the numerous stakeholders involved. The report also contained a number of findings and recommendations relating specifically to SPDC as operator of the SPDC JV.
SPDC has initiated and progressed action to implement all the recommendations directed to it by the UNEP report. The 15 SPDC JV sites specifically mentioned in the UNEP report have been re-assessed, and where further remediation was required due to re-pollution incidents, such sites have been remediated and certified by regulators.
SPDC has completed an inventory and physical verification of assets for de-commissioning and has performed a comprehensive review of its remediation techniques, and made a number of changes in line with industry best practice. SPDC JV has also shown leadership by delivering the emergency measures identified in the report related to drinking water in collaboration with Rivers State Government. More detailed information on implementation can be found at http://www.shell.com.ng/environment-society/our-response.html
Accelerating implementation of the UNEP recommendations was identified as a priority by the newly elected Buhari administration in 2015. In August 2015, a roadmap was agreed between the government, UNEP and SPDC JV, which included a governance model and funding framework for the Ogoni Restoration Fund recommended by the UNEP.
MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING WITH OGONI COMMUNIITES
In May 2014 Ogoni communities took direct responsibility for monitoring the TNP under a series of agreements using the Global Memorandum of Understanding (GMoU) model, the primary delivery mechanism for SPDC JV social investment projects since 2006. Under these new Ogoni GMoUs, SPDC JV provides funding to support unarmed community patrols which report incursions and suspicious activity directly to the security forces.
In 2015, SPDC JV and the Bodo community signed a memorandum of understanding to restart the clean-up of the Bodo creeks affected by operational spills in 2008. The clean-up will be overseen by an independent project director appointed by the Bodo Mediation Team. Contractors for the first phase of clean-up were deployed to the field in 2015 and concluded training of 400 youths on clean-up techniques with demonstration of field practice. However contractor clean-up crews were denied access by the community. Efforts are ongoing to engage all stakeholders so that the clean-up exercise can resume.
Crude oil theft and illegal refining continues to be a challenge in Ogoniland with visible evidence of repeated re-contamination of remediated sites. SPDC JV is therefore pursuing a range of initiatives to prevent and minimise the impact of theft and sabotage in Ogoniland, including community-based pipeline surveillance, awareness campaigns and alternative livelihood programmes. In 2015, SPDC JV introduced an email account and phone line so that communities can directly log complaints or issues with SPDC JV.