GNPC must block Shell’s interest in Jubilee field!

The Reuters news agency report in September 2011 indicates that Shell officials have approached Ghana oil officials to express interest in exploring for oil in the country. Mr. Thomas Manu, Director of Operations at the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC), was quoted by on October 14, 2011 to have said that “talks still ongoing – the licence is for exploration and production but they have to present a paper for review”.

It is significant to mention that as much as Ghana is looking for multinational oil giants with technical capabilities, the country should not ignore the fact that some oil companies pose serious threats to economies. There is no gainsaying that engaging Shell in the Jubilee field will be dangerous for the economy of Ghana considering the company’s terrible track record in Nigeria’s oil-rich Niger Delta.

It is clear that investigative reports by organizations and court rulings have implicated Shell in various environmental damages and human rights abuses in the Niger Delta. The 2011 Environmental Assessment Report by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) into the ecological impact of oil spills in Ogoni has implicated Shell. The report found that Shell fell below its operating standards and covered up the full extent of its pollution. UNEP has recommended an initial fund of $1 billion to start the clean up process in Ogoni.

On August 3, 2011, Shell admitted responsibility to two major oil spills in Bodo after a lawsuit was filed against the oil giant in the High Court in London. Shell now faces a compensation claim of $410 million and could be forced to clean up extensive environmental damages. It is yet to clean up the extensive damage.

Again, the 2011 report by Platform, a London-based education and research non-governmental organization, titled “Counting the costs: corporations and human rights abuses in the Niger Delta”, has revealed that Shell played a role in human rights abuses committed by Nigerian government forces and other armed groups between 2000 and 2010.

Shell, according to the report, was behind a civil war in Rumuekpe that occurred between 2005 and 2008 killing at least 60 people, including women and children. The report indicates that Shell festered land disputes that pitted local residents against them (Shell) for over a decade. Shell engaged a Youth leader and its Community Liaison Officer Friday Edu to polarise Rumuekpe.

GNPC and the government of Ghana cannot sanction a ‘convict’ to explore oil in the Jubilee field.

Shell engaged in these dastardly acts simply because of weak regulatory frameworks governing oil exploitation. Ghana is not different here. There is no doubt that regulatory frameworks governing the oil and gas industry are lacking and weak. As at now, the Petroleum [Exploration and Production] Bill is yet to be passed by parliament. It is the truth that current regulatory frameworks including the Petroleum (Exploration and Production) Law of 1984 (PNDC Law 84) are not strong enough to regulate upstream operations.

Shell is a powerful oil company and would capitalize on weaknesses in the laws for its gain. It is against this backdrop that I call on GNPC to reconsider their decision to award an oil block to Shell for exploration.

With the facts presented above, it would be regrettable and disastrous for the country to sanction the operations of Shell in the Jubilee field. Ghana must not engage an oil company that has such a terrible track record regardless of its acclaimed technical expertise. GNPC should drive out Shell!

The nearly 50 years of blatant injustice in Shell’s operations in the Niger Delta needs to be condemned. Shell engaged the military to exact human rights abuses, polluted rivers and hectares of farmlands that were sources of livelihood for the people.

It is however simply immature for people to say that Shell’s presence in the country will generate jobs and drive investments. We are being oblivious of the environmental, social and political costs of engaging Shell that could damage the progress of the country. Shell should be admonished to deal with the environmental and social calamities it has caused in the Niger Delta even before attempting exploration in Ghana’s Jubilee field.

SHELL IS NOT FIT TO OPERATE IN THE JUBILEE FIELD. Allowing Shell to operate in the country will be tantamount to gambling with the oil curse. GNPC AND THE GOVERNMENT OF GHANA MUST STOP SHELL!

The campaign against Shell’s operation in Ghana has just begun.

By Stephen Yeboah

Email: [email protected]

  1. gigito says

    As much as I agree with the writer on the environment atrocities caused by Shell in the past. I would rather argue looking at how to protect our environment from such disasters in the future and look at the economic multiplier effect that a major player like Shell will bring to our young oil and gas sector.
    Why dont we have a balanced arguement and say that the government should have water tight environment protection laws , contracts and MONITORING SYSTEMS in place in regards to companies operating in our oil and gas industry so as to mitigate future disasters.
    The fact of the matter is, a big player like Shell will bring its long years of expertise in the industry to Ghana: this is in terms of tranfer of technology in the energy market : for instance Ghana wants to diversify its energy portfolio to include solar, wind and thermal, Shell can be approached to develop these areas once it has established itself in the ghanaian market. Shell will also put Ghana’s nascent oil sector in the spotlight and make it attractive to other oil companies.
    Yes, as you rightly said, Shell is a powerful company but on a more optimistic note, it will come with financial muscle, which Ghana is in in dire need of to develop our energy sector.

    Ghana should not wait to react to an oil spll disaster, we should put in all the neccessary systems to forstall such an incident in the future. Main-while lets try and get all hands on deck to develop our oil and gas wealth.

    my two cents.

  2. T Khan says

    I agree. Get the government and the regulatory and fiscal regime in order. The rest will fall into place – as long as there isn’t any corruption!

  3. T Khan says

    I meant to say, I agree with gigito.

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.