LAGOS — Anglo-Dutch oil giant, Shell, has denied media reports that it had infiltrated key Nigerian government ministries, giving it access to politicians’ every move in the country.
The company’s rebuttal follows claims published in UK daily, The Guardian on Friday, citing US diplomatic cables obtained by whistleblower site WikiLeaks.
A Shell spokesman said “The Guardian’s assertion that Shell has somehow infiltrated the government of Nigeria is absolutely untrue, false and misleading.”
According to the leaked cables, the super-major’s top executive in Nigeria, Ann Pickard, told US diplomats in Abuja in October last year that Shell had obtained secret information, including a letter showing Nigeria had invited bids for oil concessions from China.
“She said the (government of Nigeria) had forgotten that Shell had seconded people to all the relevant ministries and that Shell consequently had access to everything that was being done in those ministries,” US Ambassador Robin Renee Sanders was quoted by The Guardian as saying in a cable to Washington.
The Guardian said Pickard, in a September 2008 cable from the US consulate in Lagos, had sought to share intelligence with the US government on militant activity, which at its peak shut down a quarter of Nigeria’s oil output.
“She claimed Shell has ‘intelligence’ that one to three surface_to_air missiles (SAMs) may have been shipped to Nigerian militant groups, although she seemed somewhat skeptical of that information and wondered if such sensitive systems would last long in the harsh environment of the Niger Delta.”
Ironically, the Shell executive expressed wariness about discussing sensitive issues with US officials.
“Pickard has repeatedly told us she does not like to talk to US government (USG) officials because the USG is ‘leaky’,” the leaked memo said.