SPDC continues to undertake initiatives to prevent and minimise spills caused by theft and sabotage of its facilities in the Niger Delta. In 2017, we sustained on-ground surveillance efforts on SPDC JV’s areas of operations, including its pipeline network, to prevent incidences of third party interference and ensure that spills are detected and responded to as quickly as possible. We continue to sustain our regime of daily over-flights of the pipeline network areas to identify any new spill incidents or activities. We have also installed state-of-the-art high definition cameras to a specialised helicopter that greatly improves the surveillance of our assets and have implemented anti-theft protection mechanisms on key infrastructure.
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 184 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 and was a clarion call to those involved in crude oil theft in Ogoniland and other parts of the Niger Delta to stop destroying their land and heritage through pipeline vandalism. 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 centered on the theme of “danger for all and benefit for a few” that crude oil theft represents, took place in Ogoniland with more than 40 communities in four local government areas – Khana, Gokana, Tai and Eleme. In 2017, the campaign focused on 34 communities located along the Trans-Niger Pipeline corridor in Eleme (Alesa and Eteo), Tai (Kegbara-Kira) and Gokana (Kpor and Biara) Local Government Areas.
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 programme equips young people with the skills to start their own businesses and create employment. It also provides access to essential business knowledge and customized support they need to transform their enterprising ideas into viable and sustainable businesses.
The pioneer set of 105 beneficiaries graduated in February 2015, and more than 70 per cent 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. In 2017, eighty Ogoni youths took part in the training after which each pitched their business idea to an expert panel of judges. The 60 top performing participants were chosen to receive start-up funding totaling more than $65,000 to turn their business ideas into reality.
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.