Ogonis, one of Nigeria’s volatile oil communities in the Niger Delta, says Anglo-Dutch oil giant, Shell, took away oil from Ogoni land worth over $81 billion, but has sadly left the host communities in utter neglect, extremely polluted the environment and desolated the entire Ogoni area.
The Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People (MOSOP), which speaks for all Ogoni oil communities in Eleme, Tai, Khana and Gokana local government areas, said Shell’s 60 years oil production in their land had left them riddled with massive deaths, deprivation, and pillage.
The Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) started operations in Ogoni land in 1958, drilling a total of 96 wells to bring nine oil fields onstream. By the end of 1992, Ogoni production was some 28,000 barrels of oil a day, about three percent of SPDC’s total production.
MOSOP, which was established in 1990 and was then led by late Ken Saro-Wiwa, began campaigning for greater control over oil and gas resources on their land, for economic development, and autonomy over their affairs, (including cultural, religious and environmental matters). MOSOP’s demands were summarised in their 1990 ‘Ogoni Bill of Rights,’ and addressed to the Nigerian Government.
By November 1992, MOSOP was also demanding from Shell $6 billion in royalties from past oil production and $4 billion for alleged environmental damage, and SPDC was given 30 days to accept or leave Ogoni land. In 1993, Shell was forced out of Ogoni following widespread Ogoni anti-Shell protests.
“The consequences of Shell’s 60 years oil production (in Ogoniland) had been the massive deaths currently experienced in all parts of Ogoniland,” MOSOP said, adding that 4,000 Ogonis have been killed through Shell related activities.
Since last year, Ogonis have been accusing the Anglo-Dutch oil giant of making sneaky oil production resumption in their area, which Shell has been refuting.
Precious Okolobo, spokesman for Shell, reiterated recently to business a.m. that Anglo-Dutch oil company has not made any re-entry move into Ogoni.
“SPDC stopped production in Ogoni land and withdrew from the area in 1993 after violence against our staff and action targeting our facilities,” the company said on its website, in a statement it titled, ‘The Ogoni Issue.’”
It said further: “SPDC has produced no oil or gas from Ogoni fields since 1993, although Ogoni land continues to serve as a transit route for pipelines transporting both SPDC and third-party oil production from other areas.”
The above statement quite confirms MOSOP’s new claims that SPDC was laying pipelines in parts of the communities, despite Ogoni people’s strong opposition to oil production resumption in their area. Their resolve is predicated on the fact that the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) report of August 2011, which called for cleanup and remediation, was yet to be implemented by the Nigerian government.
They claim Ogoni oilfields cannot support oil production resumption, until cleanup has been carried out.
Ogoni cleanup and environmental remediation, put at $50 billion over a 30-year period, is far from start-off. Initial exercise which would cost $1billion has yet to begin, since President Muhammadu Buhari flagged off the exercise in June last year.