By Udeme Akpan & Sebastine Obasi
THERE are indications that the dispute between Aiteo Group, and Shell Petroleum Development Company, SPDC, has exacerbated as the former, weekend, accused the International Oil Company, IOC, of allegedly planning a media campaign against it, and its Executive Vice Chairman, Mr. Benedict Peters.
In a statement obtained by Vanguard, Group Head, Media Operations, Mr. Ndiana Matthew, stated: “The latest in the series of plots to malign the reputation of Aiteo and our Executive Vice Chairman, Benedict Peters, came to the fore as our attention was drawn to these developments following an Arise Television news coverage of a press conference on 18 March 2021, organized by the Concerned Nigerians and a number of leading civil society organizations, including the Arewa Consultative Youth Movement, African Human Rights Centre and National Association of Nigerian Students. In the course of this event, the speakers alerted the public of the existence of a plot by oil giant, Shell, to instigate and propagate a global smear campaign against us. It appears that this calumnious campaign is being prosecuted by, amongst other antagonists, individuals and entities running a reports-for-cash media campaign.
“What transpired from the press conference today is that the participants confirmed that Shell has committed substantial resources towards impugning Aiteo’s corporate integrity, presumably to exert penalty and punishment on Aiteo for mustering the temerity to demand and insist on its contractual and commercial relationship rights. We have also become aware that the execution of this campaign will rely heavily on the dissemination and deployment – anonymously, pseudonymously, and by remunerated proxy – of deliberate misinformation and incorrect reportage aimed at discrediting and tarnishing our reputation, locally and internationally. This oblique and disingenuous campaign, which we now realize commenced a few weeks ago, appears to have been shamelessly escalated and brazenly intensified.”
According to him, “Ordinarily, it would have been apt to ignore these developments as unfounded, but recent threats and other worrisome developments, at the behest of this international oil major, have made it regretfully necessary for us to put on notice, the government, our shareholders, host communities, investors, the international community, other stakeholders, and the general public about the existence of this disgraceful, unbecoming and unacceptably inappropriate media campaign by its orchestrators against us.
“Any objective observer will easily appreciate the motivation on the part of the international oil giant to propagate this campaign of calumny. By doing so, the outcome will create unnecessary digressions and distractions from the current issues encapsulated by our demand that Shell accounts and pays for over 16 million barrels of oil belonging to us and the Nigerian government, missing through their actions and activities. Hitherto unchallenged evidence of this missing crude is exemplified by the discrepancies in the production figures independently reported by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR).”
It added: “As is standard in the industry, DPR reports actual reconciled production volumes from the wells that flow to the terminal. Their records and statistics align with Aiteo’s reconciled production figures. NNPC, on the other hand, reports crude measured at the tanks in the terminal exclusively managed, operated, and controlled by the IOC. It is the analysis of these independent reports that demonstrate the glaring discrepancies. Indeed, over the relevant three-year period, the figures from both government agencies set out below make grim, desperate reading: 2016 barrels: NNPC 16 million v DPR 22 million, 2017 barrels: NNPC 13.5 million v DPR 21 million, and 2018 barrels: NNPC 15 million v DPR 25 million”