Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Shell Admits That Oil Companies Operating in Nigeria Are Not Doing Enough

Oil Spill: We’ve Failed, Says Shell

By Chika Amanze-Nwachuku with agency report,
Nigeria ThisDay

For the first time, oil giant Shell yesterday admitted that oil companies are not doing enough to deal with oil spills in their areas of operation.

The company also said it was not ignorant of its obligation under the Nigerian law to clean up oil spills, but that it would not jeopardise the safety of its staff because of the law.

Speaking at the Fortune Global Forum in Cape Town, South Africa, Chief Executrive Officer of Shell, Peter Voser, said oil industries must come together to be better prepared in the future to deal with spills.

The Shell boss who was responding to criticisms raised at the Global Forum that Shell and other oil majors were not doing enough to clean up oil spills in Nigeria, said the complex situation in the country makes it difficult for the company to properly deal with it.

“We can contribute in the best way actually by doing our job properly (and) generate revenues for the government, but that has been quite problematic over the last few years because of sabotage and violence (targeting oil companies),” Reuters quoted Voser as saying.

According to him, “Shell was obliged under Nigerian law to clean up oil spills but would not jeopardise staff safety to accomplish this. I will not send people in if they are under threat.”

Voser said that last year alone, 98 percent of Shell's oil spills in the Niger Delta region, were caused by sabotage and or theft.

Oil spills have been left for decades in the Niger Delta, polluting the air, soil and water of impoverished communities.

This was the case even before the problems of sabotage and kidnapping in the region.

In fact, years of neglect led to these vices, because communities felt that was the way to protest injustice.

No one knows for sure how much oil has seeped into the rivers and creeks of the Niger Delta, but the report said environmentalists opined that the impact over time in one of the world’s largest wetlands is much worse than in the United States.

He however said Shell will continue its deep-water drilling to meet rising global oil demand despite safety concerns following rival BP's Gulf of Mexico blowout.

“Given the rise in the population and rise in developing world of energy needs, we will have to develop those resources in deep waters as well, so my expectation is that we will go forward with it, but it will need some changes," Voser said.

“We would not have drilled the well in the same way. We have got other safety procedures across the globe. But I think for some companies there will be some learning from this as well,” he said.

“If I look at what (US Interior Secretary Kenneth) Salazar is now proposing to change in terms of regulations in the United States, I can say this is pretty much in line with our global (safety) standards," said Voser.

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