Report claims Shell paid warlords not to attack Niger Delta pipelines

| August 27, 2012 | 0 Comments

Rob Davies

15:53 EST, 26 August 2012


15:54 EST, 26 August 2012

Shell paid warlords and militants not to attack its pipelines in the Niger Delta, contributing to armed violence in the troubled region, according to a new report.

According to evidence obtained from leaked US Embassy cables and interviews with local people, the Anglo-Dutch oil giant paid ‘protection’ money to dangerous militant groups.

Shell fights a daily battle against oil theft and the threat to its staff from kidnappers, forcing it to go to great lengths to resolve the security situation.

The Shell logo

Claim: The Anglo-Dutch oil giant paid ‘protection’ money to dangerous militant groups

But campaign group Platform argues
that paying local militants fuels instability in the region, at the
expense of local communities affected by tribal and criminal violence.

Its report said that ‘from 2005 to
2010, Shell’s routine contracts and payments to armed militants fuelled a
range of conflicts’.

In 2003, the managing director of
SPDC, Shell’s Nigerian joint venture with the government, said it had
ordered staff to make ‘no cash payments to communities other than those
specified for legitimate business relations’.

But three months later, US embassy
cables say Shell was still offering informal cash payments to local
groups that security analysts WAC Global had deemed a ‘prominent
trigger’ for conflict.

One diplomatic message, from US
ambassador John Campbell, read: ‘The oil companies have poured money
into select villages/clans to buy protection or placate local

‘Over 30 years that money has piled up guns in the hands of Delta villagers.’

As recently as February this year,
Mutiu Sunmonu, who heads Shell Nigeria, admitted that the company has
struggled to eliminate such payments.

‘You do not know who is a militant and who is a genuine contractor,’ he said at an event in London.

‘So there could be cases in the past
where you have thought you were employing, you know, a genuine bona fide
contractor, and yet he is probably a militant or a warlord.’

Shell describes some of the payments
it makes  as ‘surveillance contracts’, rewarding communities for keeping
an eye out for oil theft. Platform said such contracts were ‘simply a
fig leaf for illegitimate protection payments’.

‘These contracts have fuelled violence
between armed youth groups, de-stabilised communities and sparked
communal conflicts,’ the group said.

A Shell spokesman said: ‘Protecting
our people and our assets is Shell’s highest priority, and we have
always acknowledged the difficulties of working in countries like
Nigeria. We comply fully with local legislation when making payments to
any third party.’

The report comes just a week after it
emerged that Shell spent £242m in four years to maintain a 1200-strong
private militia to protect its installations.

Here’s what other readers have said. Why not add your thoughts,
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The comments below have not been moderated.

The US knows its ‘empire’ is finished. Rather than going out gracefully they are pulling every trick in the book . This relentless US attack on UK businesses is utterly risible.

So the USA is now trying to extort money out of another company. What is the difference between this and the USA paying private security contractors in Afghanistan? And why has no one has been prosecuted in the US for funding the IRA?

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