By Prince Okafor
The management of Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria, SPDC, has disclosed that it does not have any formal report of its staff members or contractors involved in pipeline vandalism and crude oil theft.
This is coming against the backdrop of a research conducted by Dutch Environmental Group, Milieudefensie, at Ikarama, a small community situated within Yenogoa Local Government Area in Bayelsa State.
The report disclosed that the employees of Shell Nigeria, a subsidiary of Royal Dutch Shell, orchestrate vandalism of oil pipelines to benefit from the money spent on the clean-up operations.
According to the group, Ikarama, the centre of the research, has recorded 30 oil spills in the last 13 years.
The report stated that employees of SPDC recruited local youths to sabotage pipelines, and then hired them back as workers to clean up the mess and that the majority of the leaks in Ikarama were the result of instructions given by Shell Nigeria employees.
While citing statements provided to police and Ikarama Youth Council by witnesses and individuals that have benefited, the statement stated that: “The profit made from the cleaning operations was split between SPDC employees and the youths.”
The report also disclosed that Shell officials and the Dutch ambassador to Nigeria were made aware of the matter by local leaders in 2018, but did not act on those warnings.
But in a swift reaction, SPDC spokesperson, Bamidele Odugbesan, in an e-mail response to Vanguard, stated that “SPDC does not have any formal report of the named SPDC staff members or contractors involved in pipeline vandalism or crude oil theft.
“The company, like other Shell firms globally, investigates all credible reports it receives of misconduct or unethical behaviour, and takes robust action where evidence exists.
“It has multiple ways the public can report allegations of wrongdoing by anyone working for SPDC, including a 24/7 telephone and e-mail helpline.
“It also monitors its joint venture facilities and any incident, or suspected criminal activities, which are promptly reported to the regulators and government security agencies for investigation and possible prosecution.
“All spills are assessed by a government-led joint investigation team and, where sabotage is established, the clean-up contract is not awarded to contractors from the host community to ensure that possible accomplices do not benefit from such activities.
SPDC cleans up and remediates areas impacted by spills that come from its operations, irrespective of the cause.”