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Shell leaves Ogoni land, but trouble looms in oil-rich Niger Delta region


A Shell petrol station in Kenya. Nigeria’s government decision to replace Shell’s operations in Ogoni was first celebrated, but not any more.

Written by Zachary Ochieng’   

September 29, 2008: The peace process in Ogoni land —a major test for efforts to bring stability to the oil-rich Niger Delta — is likely to fail if the Nigerian government refuses to consult local communities about new oil operations, a new report by the International Crisis Group (ICG) think tank warns. 

The report—Nigeria: Ogoni Land after Shell— examines the political and economic implications of the Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) departure from Ogoni land and gives recommendations on resuming peaceful oil operations in the economically strategic and politically volatile region. 

“If handled carefully, this transition could persuade some of the Delta’s armed groups that non-violence can produce progress on their demands”, says François Grignon, Crisis Group’s Africa Programme Director. “If handled poorly, it will not only intensify the Delta armed insurgency but also set the stage for a new crisis between the Ogoni tribe and SPDC’s successor oil company”.

The Nigerian government’s 4 June 2008 decision to replace Shell’s operation in Ogoni land was at first celebrated by the Ogoni as a victory for non-violent struggle and local communities over a multinational oil company. 

But the government soon announced the concession would be taken over by the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company. The Ogoni consider the government’s unilateral engagement of a new operator a further attempt to deny their stakeholder rights.

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