Economic Justice, Resource Justice

Community First: CSOs Press NUPRC on Niger Delta Divestment Concerns

On June 6, 2023, Social Action and its partners conducted an advocacy visit to the Nigeria Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC) headquarters in Abuja. The visit aimed to discuss the pressing concerns regarding the divestment process of Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) and other International Oil Companies (IOCs) from onshore to offshore assets. The delegation was led by Botti Isaac, the Programs Coordinator of Social Action Nigeria, Prince Edegbuo Programs Officer at Social Action, and included representatives from HEDA Resource Centre, HOMEF, and Policy Alert.

During the meeting, the delegation expressed significant apprehensions about the hasty approval of divestment applications by the federal government, scheduled to conclude by June 2024. They emphasized the need for a comprehensive, people-oriented framework to safeguard the rights and interests of host communities in the Niger Delta, whose environments have suffered from years of oil spillages and environmental degradation.

Engineer Gbenga Komolafe, the Chief Executive of NUPRC, along with commissioners and directors of various departments, received the delegation. Komolafe outlined the Commission’s efforts to improve the extractive sector’s performance, including the installation of measurement meters on oil well heads to monitor crude oil extraction accurately. He assured the delegation that NUPRC has developed seven comprehensive frameworks to address the concerns of host communities during the divestment process.

The CSOs delegation presented several key issues, including:

  • The commitment of new local owners to address legacy pollution and invest in cleanup and remediation efforts.
  • The necessity for equitable and transparent divestment processes.
  • Concerns over regulatory oversight and the efficacy of existing frameworks to protect community rights and ecological integrity.

The delegation called for an immediate halt to the divestment process until a transparent framework, acceptable to Niger Delta states, affected communities, labor, and civil society observers, is established. They emphasized the importance of fair compensation, clear remediation commitments, and the creation of an Environmental Restoration Fund, financed by Shell and other IOCs, for environmental restoration and community development projects in the Niger Delta.

Engineer Komolafe assured the delegation that NUPRC would enforce compliance with all regulatory frameworks and that the concerns raised by the CSOs had been proactively addressed. He acknowledged the importance of the issues and promised that the Commission would not compromise on enforcing regulations to protect community rights.

The CSOs delegation urged the NUPRC team to tour the Niger Delta to witness firsthand the environmental devastation caused by decades of oil exploration. They stressed the need for NUPRC to ensure that IOCs are not excused from their liabilities, thus complicating the plight of the affected communities.

The meeting concluded with the presentation of a position paper by the CSOs, which was well received by Engineer Komolafe, who appreciated the delegation’s support and contributions.

Social Action’s advocacy efforts to ensure a just divestment process have been on going. Prior to this time, on May 8, 2024, Social Action organized a virtual meeting with other civil society organizations to discuss strategies to ensure the divestment plan documents submitted to the federal government are made public. The meeting explored various approaches such as media broadcast, online publication, press conferences, Advocacy campaigns, community engagement, legal actions and conventional methods to follow in assessing the Freedom of Information Act, underscoring the importance of transparency in the divestment process.

This advocacy visit is a crucial step in Social Action’s ongoing efforts to ensure that Shell’s divestment is conducted responsibly, with due regard for the environmental and social well-being of host communities in the Niger Delta.

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“CSOs urge NUPRC to witness Niger Delta’s environmental damage from oil exploration, stressing the need for holding IOCs accountable for their liabilities.”