Shelling out £632 million is just a drop in the oil sludge

Shareholders of Royal Dutch Shell must be rubbing their hands in glee as the oil company today announced its a 54 per cent increase in its latest profits.  Pretty healthy by anybody’s standards.

The Guardian breaks down Shell’s annual earnings of £18 billion to £2.2m every hour.

Such a princely sum should mean that shelling out just over £630 million as a starting point to clean up the massive oil spill in Niger Delta would be easy for this major international oil company. After all, that’s the equivalent of just less than two weeks’ earnings.

So it’s pretty exasperating to know that after years of Amnesty and other organisations are calling on Shell to clean up its mess; after lawsuits have been successfully brought against Shell for its liability in the oil spills in the Niger Delta, and after hundreds of thousands of people have died, been made ill and simply struggled to survive in Niger Delta, Shell are still refusing to pay up.

Meanwhile, the Guardian reports that Shell plans to spend $100 billion at reversing the decline of oil output.  That’s ten times the amount suggested as a starting point for the Niger Delta clean up.  It seems pretty obvious where this company’s priorities lie then.

At Shell’s annual general meeting this May, I have no doubt that shareholders will be asking what the company’s doing to maintain this healthy profit and ensure they’re getting value for their buck.   

However, there must be more than a fair few who are also concerned about the people whose communities are being devastated by Shell’s handiwork in Nigeria.  Perhaps that meeting would be the perfect time for the company to demonstrate corporate responsibility and announce their decision to clean up the Niger Delta. Mr Voser, the video at the top is a pretty good pre-prepared script for you.

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Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.
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