Tuesday, October 11, 2011

SPDC action on matters addressed in the UNEP report - Press Release

The Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Ltd (SPDC)
10 October 2011

SPDC action on matters addressed in the UNEP report 
 Press Release

The Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Ltd (SPDC) welcomes the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) report ‘Environmental Assessment of Ogoniland’. 

It is an important milestone in the history of Ogoniland and for the oil industry in Nigeria. The UNEP report highlights the unique challenges and complexities of Ogoniland which is not representative of conditions in the rest of the Niger Delta. SPDC withdrew from the area and halted production in 1993 following several attacks against its staff, and communities have granted the company only limited access since then.

SPDC hopes the UNEP report will be a catalyst for cooperation to address the challenges in Ogoniland and the wider Niger Delta and welcomes President Goodluck Jonathan’s initiative to set up a Presidential Committee to coordinate required actions by all parties. SPDC is currently working with the industry committee which will support the Presidential Committee to define the next steps towards implementing the recommendations in the report.

SPDC has reviewed the report, including three recommendations that relate to its operations within Ogoniland and a specific finding on the current approach to in-situ remediation by enhanced natural attenuation (RENA). SPDC’s reaction to each of the recommendations is as follows:

1. To fully review and overhaul procedures for oil spill clean-up and remediation as well as improve on contracting and supervision.

SPDC has carried out a preliminary review of its procedures. RENA remains a proven and internationally recognised method to remediate spill sites which is widely used in many countries. The report noted that in a few specific cases in Ogoniland we did not go deep enough in our pre-clean up assessments and this may have impacted the overall effectiveness of remediation in those areas. A review by SPDC has confirmed this finding in relation to a few specific sites. Based on this finding, SPDC will revisit the sites in Ogoniland investigated by UNEP to determine whether clean up and remediation have been adequate, and take action as required. SPDC will also review a sample of other remediated sites more widely across the Delta to check that adequate remediation has indeed been carried out.

SPDC will continue its ongoing efforts to ensure effective supervision of contractors and their full compliance with regulatory and contractual requirements.

SPDC has been in negotiations with a reputable international organisation for some time, to launch a joint project to review and if necessary, further improve SPDC’s remediation techniques in the Delta, drawing upon independent expert scientific knowledge. Also, SPDC issued contract tenders at the beginning of 2011 inviting internationally respected organisations such as the British Standards Institute (BSI) and Det Norske Veritas (DNV) to provide independent review and assurance of SPDC’s oil spill response and management practices.

2. To conduct a comprehensive review of SPDC assets in Ogoniland and develop a decommissioning programme and Integrity Management Plan for the assets.

SPDC remains committed to developing an asset integrity management plan for Ogoniland but effective implementation will require support from communities and from the government, given the unique challenges regarding access since 1993. Decommissioning of the facilities that are not in service in Ogoniland had not been possible due to the limited access SPDC has had in the past.  As an illustration of what can be achieved when access is granted, between 2009 and 2010, SPDC secured more than 100 non-producing wells in the area to make them more difficult to tamper with. This was achieved with the cooperation of both local, state and federal governments and the Ogoni communities. SPDC has set up a team to review and develop a comprehensive decommissioning programme and asset integrity plan and looks forward to discussing these plans with the relevant Ogoni communities.

3. SPDC to work with Nigerian regulators to clarify the legislation governing remedial intervention and target values.

SPDC will continue to engage with the relevant government regulators on the Environmental Guidelines and Standards for Petroleum Industry in Nigeria (EGASPIN). SPDC confirms however that it currently manages its remediation process on a risk based approach consistent with international best practice.

In addition to addressing the three SPDC specific recommendations contained in the UNEP report, SPDC has been taking the following actions on matters related to Ogoniland:

SPDC supports all the recommended emergency measures and is working closely with the Rivers State Government regarding supplying potable water to some communities while developing detailed plans to rehabilitate existing water facilities and build new, more permanent ones to provide fresh water to all the Ogoni communities.
Prior to the report, SPDC had agreed with its joint venture partners on the need to construct an alternate pipeline that will evacuate production from its land fields to Bonny Terminal. Design and tendering for the work has already taken place and it is hoped that the project will be sanctioned by the joint venture in the coming months. This additional line would facilitate repair work on the existing Trans Niger Pipeline (TNP) running through Ogoniland – which in recent years, has become a major target for oil theft and illegal refineries and as a result, has become a source of pollution.

SPDC agrees with the UNEP finding that all sources of ongoing contamination, including activities such as crude theft and illegal refining, must be brought to an end before an effective widespread clean-up can begin. Efforts to bring lasting and meaningful change must also address the social and economic challenges in the Delta to break the cycle of militancy, violence and sabotage which affects everybody in the area. This is not something that SPDC can bring about on its own; it will require a joint effort by all relevant stakeholders, but SPDC will play its full part.

SPDC remains committed to work with others to help resolve issues in Ogoniland and learn lessons that can be applied to our operations in this uniquely challenging area and elsewhere in the Niger Delta.

Read more about oil spills in Nigeria

SPDC and Ogoniland

The UNEP report covers oil spills in Ogoniland, an area covering about 1% of the Niger Delta. In 1993 SPDC shut down all production in Ogoniland due to threats and violence against our staff and facilities.

Read more about SPDC and spills in Ogoniland

UNEP press release about theft and illegal refining in Ogoniland

In June 2010, UNEP issued a press release highlighting the ongoing environmental damage caused by criminal activity including illegal refineries in the Gokhana area of Ogoniland.

See the press release

Mutiu Sunmonu comments on UNEP Ogoniland oil spill report
(issued August 5, 2011)

Read Mutiu Sunmonu's comments

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