Shell funded warring militias in the Niger Delta -- report

In Counting the Cost: corporations and human rights abuses in the Niger Delta, Platform and a coalition of NGOs accuse Shell Oil of funding vicious conflicts between rival gangs in the Niger Delta, bribing local militias to gain access to oil, and contributing to terrible human rights abuses in the region, including devastation in the town of Rumuekpe and the slaughter of 60 people there.

The gang became locked in competition witha rival group over access to oil money, with payments to one faction provoking a violent reaction from the other. "The [rival gang] will come and fight, some will die, just to enable them to also get [a] share. So the place now becomes a contest ground for warring factions. Who takes over the community has the attention of the company."

Platform alleges that it was highly likely that Shell knew that thousands of dollars paid per month to militants in the town of Rumuekpe was used to sustain a bitter conflict. "Armed gangs waged pitched battles over access to oil money, which Shell distributed to whichever gang controlled access to its infrastructure."

Rumuekpe is "the main artery of Shell's eastern operations in Rivers state", with aroundabout 100,000 barrels of oil flowing per day, approximately10% of Shell's daily production in the country. Shell distributed "community development" funds and contracts via Friday Edu, a youth leader and Shell community liaison officer, the report said, an exclusive arrangement that magnified the risk of communal tension and conflict.


  1. So apparently Shell was paying protection money to local gangs, and this led to bloody turf wars between rival gangs over protection money.  It’s not quite a matter of Shell deciding as a matter of policy to underwrite violence; it’s Shell looking the other way.

  2. The oil *must* flow!

    Ugh, yeah, what are some human lives and misery when profits are to be had?

    Also, does Shell really think helping entrench chaos ever deeper and deeper is going to be beneficial to them in the future? Ah, forgot. Only this quarter matters. Decisions made in the civilization equivalent of a fruit fly’s life.

    1. ” does Shell really think helping entrench chaos ever deeper and deeper is going to be beneficial to them in the future?”

      Uhm, it’s been a profitable technique for at least 3 generations. So, yeah, I think you nailed it.

  3. So what they’re saying is that, compared to the Han Chinese Empire State Oil Companies, Shell is a shining beacon of morality.  They’re not even directly supplying the infrastructure for even one rape camp.  Looking forward to more fire bombings of Shell gas stations in Europe and dead silence about the Chinese.

    1. Agreed that the Chinese oil company is many degrees (order of magnitude?) more evil than Shell, but Shell doesn’t get a free pass just because of that. Being the lesser of two evils doesn’t make you good…Kind of like our choice of candidates to vote for in elections here in the US, and I assume elsewhere.

      1. Power Corrupts, and there is a lot of actual power (ergs, newtons, whatever) in a quart of oil.

        Your brush is way too broad though.

  4. Are we rating degrees of evil now?  Too subjective for me, ends up all: “Hitler wasn’t that bad compared to Stalin.”  Etc.

    I say we go with the binary evil/not evil.  Shell is evil.  (Too obvious, I know.)

  5. The oil in the Niger Delta is presumably easy to drill for, like the oil Shell and other companies are used to drilling for since the early 1900s. It is also probably a lot cheaper to toss some protection money to some local gangs than drill in shale oil or deep below the ocean floor.

    The world at large hasn’t given to shits about pretty much all of Africa for the last century, why should it start now? Pick an African country, any one of them, your choice; I’m pretty sure you can find some civil rights atrocities going on in the country you chose.

  6. Onshore operations in Nigeria are increasingly difficult for oil companies as the government is stepping up pressure to “indigenise” the sector, coupled with the long-running security issues. Shell is in the process of drastically cutting its onshore operations in the Niger Delta – reaching deals to sell off four blocks earlier this year, although these have stalled over operational disputes with NNPC.

    Shell must be held to account for what is alleged to have occurred but it’s a sector-wide problem, it’s not just a Shell issue. My concern would be that with the withdrawal of relatively accountable companies things will get worse, not better. Hopefully I’m being too pessimistic.

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