Shell.com: Emmanuel Etomi, Sustainable Community Development Manager for Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria (SPDC) reports on a new approach to help reduce conflict in the troubled Niger Delta. (ShellNews.net) Posted 17 Nov 04
Emmanuel Etomi, Sustainable Community Development Manager for Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria (SPDC) reports on a new approach to help reduce conflict in the troubled Niger Delta.
I live in a society in serious conflict. This is being fed by corruption, poverty and high unemployment among youth in a region where little of the oil wealth has been returned to the people. SPDC is the operator of the Delta’s largest oil producer – a joint venture with the national oil company, Total and Agip. The conflict disrupts our operations and threatens our staff.
Government and local communities must take the lead in ending the conflict. But as part of an industry inadvertently contributing to the problem, we are also determined to help.
Understanding our impact
In 2003, we enlisted three internationally-known conflict experts to better understand how our activities are affected by, and contribute to, the conflict. Their fieldwork, which included working with Nigerian experts and local people, highlighted how the conflict makes it difficult for us to operate safely and with integrity; how we sometimes feed conflict by the way we award contracts, gain access to land, and deal with community representatives; how ill-equipped our security team is to reduce conflict; and how drastically conflict reduces the effect of our community development programme.
Based on these findings, we will support the development of a Peace and Security Strategy (PaSS) to help reduce conflict by changing our operating, security and community development practices. In 2004, a PaSS Working Group – made up of local, national and international experts, stakeholders and representatives of the oil industry – will be created to design the strategy, monitor how it is put into practice and report on progress.
In 2003, the government’s Niger Delta Development Commission, which was set up to help develop the region, made slow progress. The SPDC operated joint venture contributed $54.5 million to the Commission, as well as $30 million to fund its own community development programme. We rolled out our new Sustainable Community Development strategy, including 13 ‘big rules’ to govern all community spending. The rules are designed to improve internal spending controls and replace cash payments by SPDC and contractors with sustainable community programmes owned by, and benefiting, the wider community. SPDC’s ‘People and the Environment’ report assesses our performance in detail, including responding to some of the criticisms made by Christian Aid about our impacts on local communities.
WHAT OTHERS SAY
External performance assessment
“Throughout my involvement in the PaSS process, SPDC senior managers have fully supported our work. I am in agreement with Emmanuel Etomi’s report, which demonstrates that SPDC understands the issues. We will only be able to judge Shell’s commitment when the strategy is fully formulated and we can see the Company’s participation in its implementation. Success is never guaranteed, but I think there is significant potential for progress.”
David Nyheim, Independent conflict analysis and strategy consultant
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