Zembla, a Dutch investigative TV programme has claimed that some employees of Shell in Nigeria colluded with locals to vandalise pipelines to benefit from the money spent on clean-up operations.
The 18-month long investigation carried out by Milieudefensie, a Dutch environmental group, into pipeline leaks between 2010 and 2020 will air on Thursday.
“Shell employees persuade local youths to vandalize the pipelines. If cleanup is necessary, these same youths are then hired to perform it,” Washington Odeibodo, a resident of Ikarama village was quoted to have said.
A statement released on the investigation also quotes a former Shell security guard who has also vandalised pipelines as saying Shell supervisors make secret arrangements with young people from different regions.
“And then they split the money from the cleanup. The recovery department from Shell sabotages the pipelines. If the cleanup will take seven months, they’ll stop after only three months,” the former employee was quoted to have said.
In response, Shell and Shell Development Company of Nigeria (SPDC), said they are unaware of any involvement by employees or contractors in causing these oil leaks.
“SPDC takes these kinds of accusations very seriously. If we find any evidence that supports these accusations, we will report it to the Nigerian authorities,” Shell said.
Zembla also reports that the Dutch embassy has been made aware of these allegations since November 2018 when Robert Petri, the former Dutch ambassador, visited Ikarama in the Niger Delta.
In response to questions from Zembla, the ministry of foreign affairs said: “Because of the premature departure of Robert Petri as ambassador to Nigeria, he hasn’t been able to follow through on his commitment”.
The ministry also said that the current ambassador has broached the subject with Shell after being questioned by Zembla.
The investigation, however, did not state how much profit was allegedly made.
Pipeline sabotage is a common occurrence in the Niger Delta and such acts are often attributed to organised gangs and local youths.