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Frequently Asked Questions
Frequently asked questions on the UNEP environmental assessment of Ogoniland
What are Shell’s interests in Ogoniland?
The Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited (SPDC) is the operator of a joint venture (the SPDC JV) between the government-owned Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation – NNPC (55%), SPDC (30%), Total E&P Nigeria Limited (10%) and Nigerian Agip Oil Company (5%). The SPDC JV carried out oil and gas 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. Since 2012 the SPDC JV’s assets in Ogoniland have been operated by the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC), the production and exploration arm of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).
One of the Niger Delta’s main pipelines - the Trans-Niger Pipeline (TNP) - traverses Ogoniland. This is an active pipeline. The SPDC JV also has five non-producing fields and a network of about 100 wells and associated infrastructure in Ogoniland.
What is the UNEP report?
In the period following the SPDC JV’s withdrawal, the security environment in Ogoniland remained volatile and targeting of oil and gas facilities by saboteurs, oil thieves and illegal refiners continued.
In 2006 the Federal Government of Nigeria commissioned the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to carry out an environmental assessment of Ogoniland as part of a wider Ogoni reconciliation process. The SPDC JV funded the report and provided data as requested. UNEP delivered its final report to the Federal Government in August 2011.
The UNEP report highlighted significant environmental impacts from oil pollution in parts of Ogoniland relating to a variety of causes. It makes recommendations to the Federal Government of Nigeria, the oil and gas industry and communities to conduct a comprehensive cleanup of Ogoniland, restore polluted environments and take coordinated action to end to all forms of oil contamination in Ogoniland, such as illegal oil bunkering, crude theft and artisanal refining of stolen crude.
What recommendations did the UNEP report make and who is responsible for implementing it?
The UNEP report presented a range of operational, technical, regulatory and behavioural recommendations addressed to the Federal Government of Nigeria, oil and gas operators – including SPDC, as operator of the SPDC JV - and communities. These recommendations are aimed at restoring the environment of polluted areas of Ogoniland and addressing the causes of ongoing contamination. The report also recommended eight emergency measures relating to water contamination in areas where there was assessed to be an immediate danger to public health.
UNEP stresses that the majority of its recommendations can only be delivered through multi-stakeholder action coordinated by the Federal Government. Some of the most important recommendations on which the delivery of subsequent action depends – including the creation of an Ogoniland Environmental Restoration Authority and an Environmental Restoration Fund for Ogoniland – are directed at the Federal Government and require it to take the lead on coordinating the activities of the many stakeholders involved.
It is important to emphasise that neither the SPDC JV nor any other stakeholder is in a position to implement the entirety of UNEP’s recommendations unilaterally. As the UNEP report stated:
“Treating the problem of environmental contamination within Ogoniland merely as a technical clean-up exercise would ultimately lead to failure. Ensuring long-term sustainability is a much bigger challenge – one that will require coordinated and collaborative action from all stakeholders.”
Who will pay for the restoration of Ogoniland?
The UNEP report recommended the creation of an Environmental Restoration Fund for Ogoniland with capital of USD 1 billion, to be co-funded by the Federal Government, NNPC and the SPDC JV. SPDC is committed to supporting and contributing its share to the Environmental Restoration Fund once a satisfactory framework and governance structure are fully established by the government.
What actions have been taken by SPDC?
SPDC has initiated action to implement all the UNEP Report recommendations directed to it as operator of the SPDC JV:
- There were 15 SPDC JV sites identified in the report as having been certified but which upon UNEP testing were found to require further remediation. All 15 of these sites were re-visited for sampling using the same laboratory as UNEP, with nine of the sites assessed to be remediated to regulatory levels. Further remediation was conducted at the other six sites and these have since been re-certified.
- An inventory and physical verification of assets in Ogoniland has been completed and SPDC is working with its joint venture partners and the government to develop a decommissioning plan for these assets.
- SPDC has completed a comprehensive review of its Oil Spill Response and Remediation Management (OSRRMS) System and made a number of improvements in line with best industry practice. The revised version of the OSRRMS was issued in June 2015
- Contractors have been re-trained on clean up and remediation techniques and SPDC has assigned specialist supervisors to a number of project sites to ensure effective oversight and compliance
- SPDC continues to carry out regular aerial monitoring of all the joint venture’s facilities in Ogoniland, including the creeks and pipelines, to identify any new incidents or activities (such as theft and sabotage) which may result in environmental damage.
- Public access to information such as Joint Investigation Visit reports and spill incident data has been improved via a spills information web site: http://www.shell.com.ng/environment-society/environment-tpkg/oil-spills/data-2015/monthly-data.html
Following the release of the UNEP Report SPDC demonstrated leadership by undertaking a range of activities in advance of action from the Federal Government, where it was able to do so, including driving implementation of UNEP’s recommended emergency measures:
- The construction of an integrated regional water scheme to provide safe drinking water to communities in the Eleme Local Government Area was wholly funded by the SPDC JV. Prior to delivery of this project, the SPDC JV supported the Rivers State Government in trucking around 148 million liters of potable water to communities over a period of 22 months from November 2011 to August 2013.
- In June 2012 the SPDC JV launched a community health outreach programme – ‘Health in Motion’ – in Ogoniland. Under this initiative, which is delivered in partnership with the Rivers State Government, medical teams visit towns and villages in Ogoniland providing primary health care services directly to communities, including eye testing, dental care, blood sugar testing, HIV/AIDS and malaria tests and minor surgeries.
- The SPDC JV has also worked with the Rivers State Government to implement awareness campaigns on the dangers of using contaminated water and with the Eleme Local Government to design and produce signs and notices to warn members of the public around impacted locations, as recommended by UNEP.
What progress has SPDC made in restoring the environment of Ogoniland?
SPDC is committed to cleaning up all spills from its facilities, irrespective of cause. This is equally the case in Ogoniland, despite the fact that SPDC ceased producing oil and gas there in 1993. Years of restricted access to the area created difficulties in identifying and remediating affected sites. Improved access over the last three years has enabled SPDC to make progress on identifying sites in need of remediation and verifying the condition of non-operating facilities and equipment, a crucial step in developing a decommissioning plan.
In 2015 23 additional sites in need of remediation were identified within Ogoniland, many as a result of crude oil theft and other criminal interference. 55 sites were remediated along the SPDC JV’s Right of Way (an area of 20-25 metres around pipelines and facilities) in Ogoniland in 2015. Unfortunately this work is taking place in the midst of continuing high levels of sabotage, crude oil theft and illegal refining, which means that the number of spill sites requiring remediation is a dynamic figure.
In 2015, SPDC JV and the Bodo community signed a memorandum of understanding to commence 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, the preliminary assessment works were stopped by the community shortly afterwards. Efforts are ongoing to engage all stakeholders so that the clean-up exercise can begin.
What changes has SPDC made to its oil spill remediation techniques?
As recommended by UNEP, the SPDC JV reviewed its use of the Remediation by Enhanced Natural Attenuation (RENA) method and assessed that bio-remediation using land farming techniques is recognized technology for reducing concentration of biodegradable contaminants nationally (by the Environmental Guidelines and Standards for the Petroleum Industry in Nigeria or EGASPIN).
EGASPIN provides for the management and remediation of contaminated land (i.e. soil, groundwater and drinking water). To this end, we have researched and adopted techniques for cleaning up oil spills that we believe to be the most effective for the soil and climate conditions in the equatorial heat of the Niger Delta. Certification of the satisfactory completion of remediation is performed for all sites by the Federal Government regulator (National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency or NOSDRA), based on results of analytical laboratory testing.
Why is it taking so long to implement the UNEP report?
As UNEP stated, a thorough clean-up of Ogoniland will take many years to achieve. SPDC has initiated and progressed action to implement all the recommendations directed to it as operator of the SPDC JV by the UNEP report. However, comprehensive implementation of UNEP’s wider recommendations will require coordinated action by all the relevant stakeholders: federal, state and local government, the oil and gas industry and communities. Regulators and civil society also have an important role to play.
SPDC remains committed to contributing its share of the Ogoni Restoration Fund recommended by UNEP and will work with all stakeholders to finalise the appropriate governance and funding structures and play its part in the government-led implementation process.
What is SPDC doing to prevent new oil pollution in Ogoniland?
The SPDC JV’s entire area of operations is covered by pipeline and asset surveillance contracts both to identify and respond to the threat of third-party interference and to ensure that spills are discovered and responded to as quickly as possible. There are also regular over-flights of the pipeline network to detect new theft points, which cause the majority of spills from SPDC JV facilities. SPDC JV regularly reviews its surveillance operations in order to improve performance. For instance, a recent initiative has been acquiring a state of the art High Definition Infra-red camera attached to a specialized helicopter that greatly improves the surveillance of our assets.
In 2014 Ogoni communities took on more direct responsibility for monitoring oil theft along the TNP under a series of new agreements signed under the Global Memorandum of Understanding (GMoU) model employed extensively by the SPDC JV in social investment initiatives across the Niger Delta.
A GMoU is a written statement between SPDC and clusters of local communities, typically based on local government or clan affinities. The agreements with clusters in Eleme, Tai, Gokana I and Gokana II support more than 500 community youths engaged in unarmed surveillance activities along sections of the TNP in Ogoniland, replacing previous arrangements with contractors. SPDC provides the funding but the patrols report all incursions directly to government security agencies.
Since 2014, the SPDC JV, in conjunction with the Rivers State Government, has embarked on a campaign aimed at raising awareness among youths of the environmental and health risks of interfering with pipelines. The campaign was carried out in all four local government areas of Ogoniland with about 20,000 participants at the end of 2015.
Shell’s flagship entrepreneurship programme, LiveWIRE, was also extended into Ogoniland in 2014, with the objective of raising living standards and reducing crude oil theft through the promotion of alternative livelihoods. An Agricultural Youth Entrepreneurial Scheme was also initiated in 2015 to increase youth participation in farming, the primary occupation in Ogoniland with attendant economic growth.
Does SPDC plan to resume operations in Ogoniland?
SPDC has not produced oil and gas in Ogoniland since 1993 and has no plans to resume operations. Since 2012 the SPDC JV’s assets in Ogoniland have been operated by the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC), the production and exploration arm of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).
SPDC and Ogoniland
The UNEP report covers oil spills in Ogoniland, an area covering about 1% of the Niger Delta. In 1993 SPDC shut down all production in Ogoniland due to threats and violence against our staff and facilities.