The management of Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria (SPDC) has declares its commitment to undertake the contentious clean-up of Ogoniland in accordance with the recommendations of the UNEP Report.
SPDC’s General Manager, External Relations, Mr. Igo Weli, who made the disclosure in Lagos while briefing journalists on Tuesday, said the company was greatly encouraged to undertake the contentious Ogoni environmental remedial action by the purposeful leadership shown by President Muhammadu Buhari. “We are greatly encouraged by the positive and constructive response from representatives of the community, Niger Delta NGOs and civil society. This is an important step forward and SPDC is determined to play its part in maintaining the momentum.”
Mr. Weli, however, warned that a critical aspect of the UNEP report which emphasizes complete stoppage of pipeline vandalism and illegal refining of petroleum products in the area must be tackled by the Federal Government if the planned clean-up must succeed. His words: “As the UNEP report stated, treating the problem of environmental contamination within Ogoniland merely as a technical clean-up exercise will ultimately lead to failure. Ensuring long-term sustainability is a much bigger challenge – one that will require coordinated and collaborative action from all stakeholders. This must include putting an end to the widespread pipeline sabotage, crude oil theft and illegal refining that are the main causes of environmental damage in Ogoniland and the wider Niger Delta today. Shell Companies in Nigeria will continue to be at the forefront engaging interested stakeholders and seeking sustainable innovative ways to resolve the problem.”
He noted that as part of SPDC’s commitment to the clean-up, it has already accomplished 16 of the 22 operator-specific actions directed at it by the UNEP report. According to the SPDC spokesperson, five of the actions were currently ongoing while one is pending, identifying the pending one as its expected contribution to the $1 billion Ogoni Remediation Fund.
Mr. Weli further disclosed that in meeting the actions expected of SPDC, 470 incidents had been documented along SPDC right of way in Ogoniland, of which 368 had been remediated, 32 at various stages of remediation while 70 were outstanding. “40 of the outstanding are in Bodo community. We have also completed the physical verification of assets in Ogoniland covering delivery and flowlines, manifolds, flow stations, compressor stations, gas plants and burrow pits”, he added.
By Olisemeka Obeche