Libmonster ID: U.S.-1468
Author(s) of the publication: D. G. GEORGI
Educational Institution \ Organization: Lomonosov Moscow State University

Keywords: Nigeria, environmental conflict, Niger Delta, oil production, corporate responsibility

In the modern scientific literature, there are two main approaches to understanding the essence of the crisis in the Niger Delta , an oil-rich region of southern Nigeria, where since the early 2000s, non-governmental armed groups (IAFs) have regularly attacked oil companies ' facilities, blown up pipelines, pumped oil, taken hostages, and participated in armed clashes with federal army units 1.

According to the first approach, the instability in the Niger Delta is caused by disagreements between the main ethno-political elites of the country, which have been manifested in one form or another since the formation of the British colony of Nigeria in 1914. It is believed that in the most populous state of West Africa, there are five groups of political elites, each of which is localized in a specific region. In the north of the country, it is a group representing the Hausa people, in the west-the Yoruba political elite, in the east-the Igbo; two multi-ethnic groups formed in the so - called Middle Belt (in the central part of the country) and in the south-in the Niger Delta.

Nigerian researchers point out many reasons that prompted ethnopolitical groups to oppose each other. Among them are the political transformations that Nigeria went through during the colonial period (O. Adeyeri, E. Azar, P. Eke, etc.); the residence of a large number of ethnic groups in the country (more than 250 - Approx. ed.) (O. Nnoli, I. Okonta, U. Ukiwo); struggle for the distribution of material resources (J. Adalikwu, V. Akpan, etc.)2. In this approach, the current crisis in the Niger Delta can be compared with the tribal clashes in the Middle Belt in the 1990s and with the recent radical Islamist attacks in northern Nigeria.3

According to another approach (in the works of L. O. Amadou, O. S. Enemaku)4, which seems more legitimate, the Niger Delta crisis is a conflict between the center and the periphery, which arose as a result of short-sighted economic policies of the federal authorities and violations of oil production rules by multinational oil corporations (TNCs). The parties to the conflict were the Nigerian Government, the population of the region and TNCs.

The role of foreign corporations in the aggravation of the crisis in the 1990s and 2000s was studied, in particular, by L. O. Amodu5, who pointed out that most often environmental, economic and legal conflicts arose between residents of villages located near pipelines or oil fields in Delta, Rivers, Bayelsa, Akwa-Ibom and Sama states. Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria (SPDC, a subsidiary of Royal Dutch Shell) is the largest company in Nigeria with foreign capital that conducts oil production in continental fields. Its infrastructure, which includes 6 thousand km of pipelines, 86 fields, 68 measuring stations and two oil loading terminals, covers vast areas of mangrove forests, wetlands, straits, islands of the Niger Delta and the territory used by local residents for pasture, arable land, hunting, fishing and living areas.6

SPDC's community relations policy, which assumes mutually beneficial contacts only with the top of the village communities, uses

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unemployed youth to protect oil infrastructure facilities, as well as environmental violations contributed to the growth of social tensions in the region and the transformation of a peaceful conflict into an armed one.

SPDC's environmental policy for several decades has been the cause of a relentless confrontation between the company and the local population, who are dissatisfied with the barbaric plundering of the region's natural resources, large-scale oil spills, gas burning, and the discharge of water contaminated with hydrocarbons into the straits, which leads to environmental destruction.

Today, the Niger Delta is one of the most oil-polluted regions in the world, with 7 weekly emissions of harmful substances into the atmosphere. The" share " of SPDC accounts for between 150 and 200 spills annually.8 In 2008 - 2009 alone, more than 100 thousand tons of water spilled out of the pipelines here. barrels of oil 9.

Ecological disturbance leads to salinization and a decrease in soil fertility, the extinction of river and forest flora and fauna. In turn, this leads to a deterioration in the living conditions of local residents, for 60% of whom (in conditions of high unemployment) the natural environment remains the main source of income and food (fishing, farming, hunting, shellfish harvesting).10. From 1980 to 2010 the poverty rate in the region increased from 13.2% to 58.2% 11.

Since the early 1980s, the population of oil-bearing regions began to participate in protests and demonstrations against this method of hydrocarbon production and demand compensation for pollution, as well as measures aimed at socio-economic development of the region. In 1983, the first lawsuit against SPDC 12 was filed in a Nigerian court. It was followed by the initiation of other similar cases, the number of which by the end of the 1990s was growing.

reached 500. However, many lawsuits lasted for several years and practically did not change the existing order of things.13

In court arguments, lawyers for oil companies generally argued that the spills were caused by deliberate damage to pipelines by local residents in order to steal oil and then resell it. Thus, Royal Dutch Shell estimates that in 2012, out of 198 spills, 161 were caused by local residents, who, indeed, began to actively engage in illegal oil pumping in the 1980s, having established a whole network for the sale and transportation of hydrocarbons.

Pumping volumes in Bayelsa, Rivers, Abia, Benue, Egunu, Edo, Kogi, Ondo, Lagos and Ogun states now reach 10% of daily production 14. In accordance with Nigerian law, the oil company is exempt from compensation payments in case of evidence of illegal actions of local residents.

In cases where oil companies admit responsibility for a spill (for example, due to equipment deterioration), disputes arise over the amount of contamination, the amount of compensation, and the measures required to deal with the consequences of the accident.

In the course of resolving these differences, the TNK management usually acted at its own discretion, ignoring the demands of residents of oil-bearing areas. This policy was actually supported by the Nigerian government, which is dependent on petrodollars, especially since it was almost impossible to organize the extraction of "black gold" without the assistance of European and American oil companies.

In the 1990s, protests by residents of the Niger Delta developed from sporadic actions to mass spontaneous actions, including general strikes, blocking of roads, seizure of transport, attacks on infrastructure and the forcible suspension of oil production. The most large-scale speeches were made by representatives of the Ogoni ethnic group under the leadership of political and environmental activist K. Saro-Viva. In 1994, he organized large-scale protests that threatened the SPDC's oil production in the territory of the so-called Ogoniland. The protests were violently suppressed as a result of the joint efforts of federal law enforcement agencies and the security services of the oil company. In 1995, K. Saro-Wiwa and eight other leaders of the movement were executed.

The policy of suppressing protests and ignoring demands, together with other factors, led not to appeasement, but to an aggravation of the internal political situation in the oil-bearing regions. An intractable crisis situation developed by the mid-2000s due to the emergence of a large anti-government armed group, the Movement for the Liberation of the Niger Delta (MLN), whose level of training and weapons made it possible to attack well-guarded oil facilities and remote drilling platforms, carry out abductions of workers, blow up pipelines and effectively resist government troops.

At the same time, regional political parties and movements, with the support of foreign law firms and human rights organizations, began to file lawsuits more actively, including in international courts (in London and The Hague).

In November 2008, the international environmental organization Friends of the Earth and the Dutch Milieudefensie together with residents of the settlements of Oruma,

page 68

Goi and Ikot Ada Udo applied to the District Court of The Hague to review the environmental damage caused to the region by SPDC as a result of oil spills in 2004, 2005 and 2007. The plaintiffs pointed out that TNK did not comply with the rules of operation of pipelines, and demanded compensation.

The SPDC denied responsibility for the "environmental disaster". According to its investigation, in all three cases, there was a puncture or sawing of the pipeline, committed by local residents who filled oil tanks for subsequent sale on the "black market" 15.

In January 2013, the court agreed with the arguments of TNK, but found SPDC guilty of failing to prevent the wrecking that caused the third spill, and ordered compensation to Elder Friday Akpan, an injured resident of the village of Ikot Ada Udo 16.

A little later (in April 2011), the High Court of London began considering a claim filed by 11 thousand residents of Bodo (Ogoniland) against the SPDC. Local Ogoni were affected in 2008 by the release of oil from the Bodo-Bonni pipeline, which polluted the Bodo Strait and all waterways in the region within a 20 km2 radius. Residents of Bodo indicated that the accident deprived them of drinking water, which is supplied by fresh water sources in rural areas that do not have running water.17

Legal support for the affected party was provided by the British law firm Leigh Day&Co, which in 2007 supported the claim of a group of fishermen from Ivory Coast, accusing Shell of dumping toxic waste from a tanker in the immediate vicinity of the coastline.18

Responding to the accusations of Bodo residents, TNK representatives said that they did not deny the fact of the oil release, but the volumes of the leak were smaller than the affected party claimed. The company explained the overall pollution of the region by the large number of spills that occurred both earlier and later.

The investigation used information contained in the report of the international organization Amnesty International, which confirmed the lack of cleaning of the oil slick, and in the report of experts of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), based on a large-scale two-year study of the ecology of the region19.

UNEP environmentalists have pointed out that in more than half a century of oil production in the Niger Delta, the region has been significantly more damaged than previously thought. The pollution control measures applied by the MNCs did not meet either Nigerian environmental standards or the oil companies ' own standards.

Experts confirmed the words of K. Saro-Viva that Ogoni "survived an ecological catastrophe", and attributed the low average life expectancy in the region (45 years) to the poor state of the environment. Using this data, the plaintiffs ' lawyers were able to prove that two major spills were caused by the company. Based on this evidence, in 2011 the court ordered SPDC to clean up the contamination and pay compensation. But at the end of 2013, local residents pointed out the lack of relevant work; they considered the compensation paid in the amount of 3,500 pounds insufficient.

Despite the verdicts that only partially satisfied the plaintiffs ' claims, as well as TNK's failure to comply with court orders, environmentalists and human rights activists believe that they have achieved significant success, primarily because the decision of the Hague Court set an important precedent: for the first time a foreign company was convicted of illegal actions abroad, and for the first time a guilty verdict was passed for condoning sabotage 20.

According to environmental activists, this verdict may be the first step towards making changes in Nigerian law so that oil companies can be held responsible for oil spills, regardless of the reasons that caused them. Only such changes, according to the experts of Amnesty International, can stop the constant deterioration of the environmental situation in the region21.

In 2011, the open publication of SPDC reports began, as well as the revision of social corporate responsibility (business's responsibility to society)by oil companies22. While in the 1990s TNCs ' investment in the development of local communities (providing scholarships to geological and engineering students, building roads and power lines to remote control stations) was driven by pressing business challenges, in the 2000s projects aimed at improving the living conditions of local tribes became a priority (digging wells, setting up health facilities, schools and youth training centers, helping finance agricultural projects and small businesses)23.

Environmental activists believe that the tactic of bringing to justice is more effective than armed resistance. So, at the end of 2013, Leigh Day&Co filed an application in the High Court of London, in which it accused the SPDC of failing to comply with the requirements imposed by the court in 2011. The hearing in the case is scheduled to take place in 2014.

page 69

At the same time, many aspects of the environmental conflict between TNCs and the population of oil-bearing areas remain unresolved. Nigerian legislation leaves gaps in determining the amount of compensation; the negotiation process between the SPDC and the affected party remains vaguely articulated, and often the oil company negotiates compensation in parallel with several groups of representatives from the affected area.

A significant problem remains the fact that SPDC uses lower technological standards in Nigeria, compared to those used in the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. In addition, the company does not allocate sufficient funds for infrastructure upgrades and the introduction of environmental safety systems to prevent oil leaks.24

In the course of environmental investigations, local residents are often not involved by oil companies to examine evidence and investigate the causes of accidents, as was the case, for example, in Bodo 25Amnesty International experts noted a tendency to downplay emissions in TNCs ' estimates and reports on the damage caused. Meanwhile, reports are often the only documentary evidence that a judge can rely on when making decisions in court proceedings: the testimony of local residents is usually ignored.

The problem of restoring the Niger Delta ecosystem is becoming more acute. UNEP estimates that the process could take decades to complete and require a large investment. 26 At the same time, the resolution of the political crisis in the Niger Delta, which has negatively affected the economic and political situation in the country as a whole, as well as issues of socio-economic development of the region are the most important components of the conflict resolution process.


Denisova 1 Nigeria after the presidential elections of 2011 / / God planety: ezhegodnik. M., 2012) (in Russian) Elkina E. A. Piratstvo v Gvineyskom zalive: novye ugrozy // Azia i Afrika segodnya. 2012, N 12) (in Russian)

Adeyeri O. 2 Nigerian State and the management of oil minority conflicts in the Niger Delta: A retrospective view // African Journal of Political Science and International Relations, 2012, N 5, p. 99; Azar E. The management of protracted social conflict: theory and cases. Aldershot, 1990. p. 12; Ekeh P. Political Minorities and Historically-Dominant Minorities in Nigerian History and Politics. Buffalo, 1994, p. 25 - 30; Nnoli O. The dynamics of ethnic politics in Nigeria // ODU: Journal of West African Studies, 1976, N 14, p. 10 - 21; Okonta I., Ukiwo U. The Coastal-Hinterland Factor in the transformation of ethnic identities in Nigeria's Niger Delta // Oxford-Sciences Po Research Group - oxpo.politics.ox.ac.uk; Ukiwo U. From "pirates"' to "militants": A historical perspective on anti-state and anti-oil company mobilization among the Ijaw of Warri, Western Niger Delta // African Affairs. 2002. N 106, p. 587 - 610; Adalikwu J. Globalization and the uneven application of international regulatory standard: the case of oil exploration in Nigeria // A Thesis submitted to the College of Graduate Studies and Research For the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy In the Department of Sociology, 2007 - library.usask.ca; Akpan W. Ethnic Diversity and Conflict in Nigeria: Lessons from the Niger Delta Crisis // African Journal on Conflict Resolution. 2007, N 2, p. 161 - 191.

3 For more information, see: Denisova T. S. Edict op.

Amodu L.O. 4 Community Relations Strategies and Conflict Resolution in the Niger Delta: a Study of Three Major Oil Companies // A Thesis in the Department of Mass Communication Submitted to the College of Development Studies in Partial Fulfilment of the Requirements for the Award of the Degree, Doctor Of Philosophy, 2011 -eprints.covenantuniversity.edu.ng; Enemaku O.S. Community Relations and Oil-Related Conflicts in the Niger Delta, Nigeria // Доклад для семинара Norway, Nigeria and Oil, 2006 - www.afrika.no

Amodu L.O. 5 Op. cit.

6 Shell interests in Nigeria, 04.2011 - www-static.shell.com

7 Bolshov I. G. 7 Nigeria: Crisis in the economy (transition to civil governance and problems of economic recovery of the country) / / Scientific Notes of the Institute of Africa of the Russian Academy of Sciences, issue 21, Moscow, 2000, p. 45. (Bolshov I. G. Nigeria: krizis v ekonomike (perekhod k grazdanskomu pravleniyu i problemy ekonomicheskogo ozdorovlenya strany // Uchonye zapiski Institute Afriki RAN. 2000) (in Russian); National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency - http://nosdra.gov.ng

8 Environmental performance - oil spills, Shell in Nigeria, 2011 -www-static.shell.com; Royal Dutch Shell and its sustainability troubles.

Background report to the Erratum of Shell's Annual Report 2010 // Report of the Milieudefensie environmental organization - http://www.deve-lopmenteducation.ie

9 Royal Dutch Shell and its sustainability troubles...

Gboyega A., Siureide Т., Minh Le Т., Shukla G.P. 10 Political Economy of the Petroleum Sector in Nigeria: Policy Research Working Paper 5779, 2011 - wds.worldbank.org

Bello M.A., Roslan AM. 11 Has poverty reduced in Nigeria 20 years after? // European Journal of Social Sciences. 2010. N 15, p. 7 - 17.

12 Militias, Rebels and Islamist Militants: Human Insecurity And State Crises In Africa - www.issafrica.org

Agbonifo J. 13 Territorialising Niger Delta conflicts: place and contentious mobilization // Interface: a journal for and about social movements. 2011. N 3, p. 253.

Osaghae E., Ikelegbe A., Olarinmoye O., Okhonmina S. 14 Youth Militias, Self Determination and Resource Control Struggles in the Niger-Delta Region of Nigeria // CODESRIA Conflicts and conflict resolution in Africa. Vol. 5, p. 96 - www.codesria.org

Stanwick PA. 15 Shell and Nigeria: Dancing with the Devil? // American International Journal of Social Studies. 2013. N 7, p. 70 - 75.

16 Cit. по: David J., Reed S. Mixed Decision for Shell in Nigeria Oil Spill Suits // The New York Times, 30.01.2013.

17 Nigeria: Bad information: Oil spill investigations in the Niger Delta, 2013 - http://www.amnesty.org

Diomande Dro Hiasintpe. 18 Razrabotka prirodnykh resursov i zashchita okruzhay sredy (na primere Nigeriia) [Development of natural resources and environmental protection (on the example of Nigeria)]. Moscow, December 8, 2011, Moscow, 2012, pp. 116-118.

19 The true 'tragedy'. Delays and failures in tackling oil. Spills in the Niger Delta, 2011 - http://www.amnesty.org; Environmental Assessment of Ogoniland, 2011 - http://postconflict.unep.ch

Brock J., Callus A., Owolabi T. 20 Dutch court says Shell responsible for Nigeria spills // Reuters, 30.01.2013.

21 Nigeria: Bad information...

22 Royal Dutch Shell and its sustainability troubles...

Naagbanton P. 23 Conflicts Resolution and Peace Building in Niger Delta: The Role of Government Institutions and Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) - www.cehrd.org

24 Royal Dutch Shell and its sustainability troubles; The Price of Oil. Corporate Responsibility and Human Rights Violations in Nigeria's Oil Producing Communities // Human Right Watch, 1999 - www.hrw.org

25 Nigeria: Bad information...

26 Environmental Assessment of Ogoniland...


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