Sunday, March 27, 2011

Pollution, corruption, business as usual... and corporate charity in Nigeria

February Nigerian militant groups were scrambling for "surveillance jobs" - wanting to get paid for making sure what they use to steal will not get stolen?
FIVE thousand pipeline surveillance job slots intended for former militants to secure oil facilities in Delta State has pitched former militants in the state against one another, even as members of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, MEND, Urhobo chapter, have vowed to make the state ungovernable if the job slots allotted to them were not increased and given to militant leaders of the area for distribution.
See MEND threatens war over pipeline surveillance job in Delta.

Whatever the precise outcome of those negotiations they haven't been entirely successful. Oil companies spend millions on charities and advertising to stay popular and when showing journalists around they did a helicopter tour of outlaw camps for refining stolen crude:

See photos at Oil firm projects showcased ahead of Nigerian poll.

Posters show smiling students posing after receiving university scholarships. New roads appear on formerly potholed mud tracts. Millions of dollars are promised to improve the lives of the desperate poor. These campaigns by oil company Royal Dutch Shell PLC and other foreign firms make it seem they are running for office in crude-rich Nigeria, which will hold crucial presidential, federal and local elections in the coming weeks. The multinational firms have spent hundred of millions of dollars toward projects they advertise as improving the life of those living in the country's troubled Niger Delta. [...] Some estimate as much as 550 million gallons of oil have spilled in the delta from failing pipes and attacks since production began — at a rate roughly comparable to one Exxon Valdez disaster per year. Shell flew journalists in a helicopter over a cleared area in the delta where locals ran makeshift refineries turning stolen crude tapped from pipelines into diesel and kerosene. The company blamed nearly all of its oil spills in 2009 on sabotage from thieves and militants. Environmentalists and community activists routinely blame Shell for the spills, pointing at the company's aging pipelines and poor cleanup efforts.
See AP / Oil firms showcase giving ahead of Nigeria poll, but many blame them for environmental damage.

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