A GROUP known as Niger Delta Congress (NDC) has issued a seven-day ultimatum to Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) to address environmental challenges caused by its activities in the Niger Delta region before going on with plans to divest its assets in Nigeria.
The group which condemned the asset divestment plan by Shell, threatened legal action against the company if it failed to yield to the demand at the expiration of the ultimatum.
The group noted that its opposition to the plan was because Shell had failed in addressing environmental challenges posed by its activities in the Niger Delta region.
In a statement signed by the NDC Spokesperson, Barr. Ovunda Eni, the group said it believed that the divestment plan by Shell was to “avoid taking responsibility for the environmental carnage it has supervised in the Niger Delta since Nigeria’s independence.”
Shell had during its annual general meeting in May, announced plans to sell out its Nigerian assets, especially those in the shallow water and onshore.
According to the Chief Executive Officer of Royal Dutch Shell, Ben van Buerden, the decision to sell out part of its Nigerian subsidiary assets was due to constant “sabotage and theft” on the investments.
Buerden said, “Over the last 10 years we have reduced the total number of licences in onshore Nigeria by half. But unfortunately, our remaining onshore oil operations continue to be subject to sabotage and theft. This means that the balance of risk and reward associated with our onshore oil portfolio in Nigeria is no longer compatible with our strategic ambitions.
“Because of this, we have started discussions with the Nigerian government to align on a way to move forward. We’ve drawn that conclusion, and we’re now talking to the Nigerian government on the way forward.”
The NDC accused Shell of causing oil spillage during oil exploration and production activities which had led to environmental degradation in the region.
“This condemnation is further necessitated by the many spillages that have plagued the Niger Delta region as a result of the over six decades of Shell’s operations and its failure to carry out a proper environmental impact assessment, a holistic clean up exercise, and compensation of affected communities and individuals within the region,” NDC stated.
The group called on the government and SPDC to carry out a comprehensive audit of the environment where Shell has carried out all its activities and compensation of affected communities in the Niger Delta region.
“We the people of the Niger Delta hereby demand that a comprehensive audit of the environment Shell has operated in must be carried out by Shell and the Government, swiftly followed by a corresponding clean up of all areas requiring one, and compensation for the negative externalities our people have borne and will bear in the future, before any further divestment by the SPDC,” the group said.