5 August 2011
ABUJA (Reuters) - A landmark U.N. report on 50 years of oil pollution in Nigeria is unlikely to bring the change many had hoped for, after Shell and the national petroleum company went on the defensive and weary local communities said they had seen it all before.
The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) report focused on the Ogoniland region and is the most comprehensive, scientific analysis in any area of the vast Niger Delta wetlands, the heartland of
Africa's largest energy industry.
The report offers evidence that operator Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC), a coalition between state-oil firm NNPC and Shell, failed to follow best practice, leading to serious public health issues.
The report laid out a detailed road map for the world's biggest ever oil-spill clean-up, taking 30 years and cost an initial $1 billion, led by money from SPDC and the Nigerian government. The local communities are not holding their breath.
"The shelves are filled with reports ... the fact that the devastation was caused by oil exploitation is something that all of us already knew," said Ledum Mitee, president of the Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People (MOSOP).
"In our view, Shell has just been able to purchase, at huge cost and time, another four years of doing nothing, absolutely nothing, to clean the environment."
"The report finally confirms what we have been saying all these years; that the entire Niger Delta region, not just Ogoni land, has been severely damaged due to oil exploitation," said Nnimmo Bassey, director of Environmental Rights Action (ERA).
"But I'm not optimistic that the multinationals and government will change their ways of operating in the country despite the fact that the report said that Shell did not meets its own required standards of operations."