river in forest

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 although one of Niger Delta’s main pipelines, the Trans-Niger Pipeline (TNP), traverses Ogoniland. 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. The SPDC JV also has five non-producing fields and a network of about 100 wells and associated infrastructure in the area, some of which have been vandalized by third 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. The SPDC JV funded the report and provided data as requested. UNEP delivered its report to the Federal Government of Nigeria 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 Federal Government of Nigeria, 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 of Nigeria and required it to take the lead in coordinating the activities of the numerous stakeholders involved. SPDC welcomed the UNEP Report and remains committed to its implementation under the leadership and coordination of the Federal Government of Nigeria. The report also contained a number of findings and recommendations relating specifically to SPDC as operator of the SPDC JV.

Over the last five years, SPDC has taken action on all the UNEP recommendations addressed specifically to it as operator of the SPDC JV and has completed a majority of these recommendations.

  • The 15 SPDC JV sites specifically mentioned in the UNEP report have been reassessed, and where further remediation was required, those sites have been remediated and certified by government regulators.
  • SPDC has completed an inventory and physical verification of assets for decommissioning and continues to work with its joint venture partners and the Federal Government of Nigeria to develop a decommissioning plan for these assets.
  • SPDC has completed a comprehensive review of its oil spill response and remediation techniques, and made a number of improvements in line with industry best practices.
  • The SPDC JV has also shown leadership by delivering the emergency measures identified by the report related to providing safe drinking water to impacted communities in collaboration with Rivers State Government.
  • 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. View detailed information on implementation here.

Accelerating implementation of the UNEP Report recommendations was identified as a priority by the Buhari administration in 2015. To this end, on June 2, 2016, the clean-up process was launched at Patrick Waterside in Bodo by the Federal Government of Nigeria. On August 4, 2016 President Buhari inaugurated the Governing Council and Board of Trustees which will oversee the implementation of the UNEP Report. The SPDC JV is represented on both bodies and will continue to actively support the process within the framework established by the Federal Government of Nigeria. Also, the establishment of a reformed Hydrocarbon Pollution and Remediation Project (HYPREP) under the Ministry of Environment is a positive development aimed at the sustainable clean-up of Ogoniland.

The UNEP report also recommended the creation of an Environmental Restoration Fund with capital of $1 billion, to be co-funded by the Federal Government of Nigeria, the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation and SPDC JV and other operators in the area. The Nigerian Federal Executive Council on December 7, 2016 approved a new gazette for HYPREP under the Ministry of Environment and the incorporation of the $1 billion Ogoni Restoration Fund (ORF) as a legal entity. SPDC remains fully committed to supporting and contributing its share to the ORF once the appropriate framework and governance structures are fully established by the Federal Government of Nigeria. The inauguration of the Governing Council and Board of Trustees is a key step in this direction.

The Ministry of Environment and the HYPREP governing council have appointed a Project Coordinator for the implementation exercise in 2017.

SPDC continues to look forward to working collaboratively with HYPREP and other government and non-government stakeholders to ensure the clean-up process established by the Federal Government of Nigeria succeeds.

Memorandum of understanding with Ogoni communiites

In 2015, SPDC on behalf of the SPDC JV and the Bodo community signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) granting SPDC access to begin the clean-up of areas affected by two regrettable operational spills in 2008.

The MOU also provided for the selection of two contractors to conduct the clean-up and to be overseen by an independent project director. International contractors for the first phase of the clean-up were mobilised to the location in September 2015, and they trained 400 Bodo youths on clean-up techniques.

Unfortunately, the contractors were subsequently denied access by the community in late September 2015. In 2016, discussions continued with the Bodo community under the Bodo Mediation Initiative (BMI) to allow contractors to proceed with the clean-up but remained unresolved as of the end of 2016.

SPDC remains fully committed to the clean-up of identified areas of Bodo when access is granted.

Crude oil theft and illegal refining continue to be a challenge in Ogoniland with visible evidence of repeated re-contamination of remediated sites. The 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 2014, the SPDC JV signed a series of agreements with communities in Ogoniland using the Global Memorandum of Understanding (GMoU) model.

Under these GMoUs, the SPDC JV provides funding to support unarmed community patrols which report incursions and suspicious activity directly to the government security forces. SPDC has reached nearly 150 communities in Ogoniland since it embarked on an engagement campaign in 2014 to raise awareness on the environmental devastation from pipeline vandalism and illegal crude oil refining in response to the recommendations of the UNEP Report on Ogoniland.

The programme involves open-air meetings and publicity campaigns on electronic media. In 2016, SPDC collaborated with local community leaders, traditional rulers and state governments in the Niger Delta to raise awareness among youths of the environmental and health risks of interfering with pipelines. During the course of the year, engagements took place in Ogoniland with more than 40 communities in four local government areas – Khana, Gokana, Tai and Eleme.

Shell’s flagship youth entrepreneurship programme, Shell LiveWIRE, was extended to Ogoniland in 2014, with the aim of raising living standards and reducing crude oil theft through the promotion of alternative livelihoods.

The pioneer set of 105 beneficiaries graduated in February 2015, and more than 70% of them are now successful business owners and employers of labour. As was the case in 2015, 60 Ogoni youths were trained in entrepreneurship skills in 2016. Fifty of the trainees who succeeded in the final assessment received start-up funds for their business ideas. An Agricultural Youth Entrepreneurial Programme was also initiated in 2015 to increase youth participation in farming, the primary occupation in Ogoniland with associated economic growth.

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More In Briefing Notes

Nigerian Content Development

The Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited (SPDC) as operator of the SPDC Joint Venture (SPDC JV) carried out exploration and production operations in Ogoniland from the 1950s to the early 1990s.

Security, Theft, Sabotage and Spills

Incidents in 2016 have reinforced that security remains a high priority in the Niger Delta. Crude oil theft, sabotage and related damage to oil and gas facilities continue to present significant security concerns in parts of the Niger Delta, as well as environmental damage, which is aggravated by the proliferation of illegal refineries in the area.