Voice of America: BP Oil Spill Brings New Attention to Nigeria’s Many Spills
by Nico Colombant
The massive BP oil spill and cleanup in the Gulf of Mexico are bringing renewed attention to the many spills taking place in Nigeria’s oil-rich Niger Delta region. Activists in the United States say environmentalists in Nigeria should seize current attention on the problem to get Nigeria’s government and oil companies to clean up in the Niger Delta as well.
The editor of the Washington-based Africa Focus Bulletin website, William Minter, recently posted research that has been done on Niger Delta oil spills under the heading, ‘US/Nigeria, By Way of Comparison’.
“There are estimated to be several thousand spills, smaller spills a year, but they add up in the Niger Delta. I think the difference is just that attention gets paid when it happens close to the United States, when it is a big dramatic incident and there is immediate political pressure on the company and on the government at all levels to do something about it,” he said.
Research by the World Conservation Union and Nigerian government agencies indicate that on average every year over the past 50 years the oil spilled in Nigeria has been equivalent to the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska.
That spill was estimated at about 250,000 barrels.
The BP spill in the Gulf of Mexico is estimated to have reached three times the amount of the Exxon Valdez spill.
The coordinator of the San Francisco-based Justice in Nigeria Now advocacy group Abby Rubinson hopes current attention on spills will eventually bring a similar response in Nigeria. “The conversations that people have here in the United States about how it is going to affect tourism and fishermen in the Gulf are going to have to find a new livelihood, pictures of the birds and fish covered in oil, all those things, it has been happening in Nigeria for the past 50 years. I mean if there are measures that work here, if there are things that the government is doing, that the oil companies are doing, that results in proper clean up here, they should be doing the same thing in Nigeria,” Rubinson said.
What also worries activists like Rubinson is that in Nigeria as well as other parts of West Africa, deepwater drilling at below 15-hundred meters is significant. “The oil is further away, deeper and it is new technology or new situations. The likelihood that something will go wrong is higher. It is harder to respond when the situation is so far offshore and so deep. So if this is any indication of what happened here, I cannot imagine it would be any better in Nigeria,” Rubinson said.
The BP explosion took place at deep levels where lots of drilling is expected in the years ahead in the Gulf of Guinea.
Minter says Nigerian environmentalists should use the Internet to make their case. He says the Ushahidi website which was established in Kenya to track post-election violence would be a good model.
Ushahidi means “testimony” in Swahili. The website established a crisis information system to which citizens contributed via mobile phone. “You can use SMS messages (shorth message service) and have them show up on a database. I am sure there are Nigerian programmers and activists who are computer-savvy who could hook up with Ushahidi and maybe bring greater visibility to the situation in the Delta with an online database. You could even link in to videos,” he said.
For the time being, activists say cleanups could easily take place in the Niger Delta to help local communities, and that simple solutions such as repairing or replacing old pipes would help limit spills. They say public pressure is needed to bring about change, since in Nigeria’s context, laws, such as ones to limit gas flaring, have not been properly enforced.
One of the companies which has been accused of causing the most spilling in Nigeria is Shell. Earlier this year, it admitted to spilling 14,000 tons of oil in 2009.
But the Anglo-Dutch company, which works in partnership with Nigeria’s government in the Niger Delta, says that nearly all of its oil spills are caused by theft, vandalism and sabotage by militants, and very little by deteriorating infrastructure. Militants say they are fighting for equal distribution of oil wealth in the Niger Delta where most people remain poor despite decades of oil extraction from their region.
October 19, 2009
Wall Street Journal: A Lack of Flare
Nigeria hopes that by stopping oil companies from burning off natural gas, it will also help quell domestic violence
By Benoit Faucon
The decades-old industry practice, known as flaring, has long been criticized as wasteful and harmful to the environment because of the carbon dioxide it releases into the atmosphere. But more recently, flaring has become a lightning rod for protests and armed attacks by Nigerian locals, many of whom lack reliable access to electricity and the economic opportunities that go along with it.
Amid escalating unrest that has shut down production of more than one million barrels of oil a day at a cost of billions of dollars in lost revenue, interest is growing in a handful of pioneering power plants that use unwanted gas to provide electricity to communities near the oil fields. There is a push on to build more of them in the belief that the way to prevent the violence that has shaken the West African nation is to address underdevelopment in the Delta, where the wealth generated by oil has done little to improve the lives of residents, who subsist on an average of $2 a day.
“Power will be a key issue” if a recent disarmament deal is to be followed by durable peace, says Kennedy West, who mediates between militants and the government as president of the Association for Non-Violence in the Niger Delta. “Everybody is looking at it.”
Some say proposed legislation that would fine oil companies for failing to stop gas flaring by the end of 2010 at twice the burned gas’s international market value is helping to spur action. Previous deadlines to end flaring in Nigeria have come and gone, but the fines proposed in the latest bill are much steeper than what the government has set in the past.
Cycle of Violence
Today, about a third of the natural gas associated with crude-oil extraction in Nigeria is set ablaze in vertical columns. Most of the rest is liquefied and exported abroad.
While that is an improvement from five years ago, Nigeria ranks behind only Russia when it comes to gas flaring, accounting for 10% of flared gas world-wide—and more than 40 million tons of carbon-dioxide emissions annually—according to statistics from the World Bank’s Global Gas Flaring Reduction Partnership.
Flaring has been going on for decades in Nigeria, the fifth-largest supplier of oil to the U.S. The practice took off for a variety of reasons: The value of natural gas was low compared with oil, the oil industry lacked the pipelines and infrastructure to process and export gas, and there was no organized opposition to petroleum companies—armed or peaceful.
But it has become clear that in addition to carbon emissions, flaring takes a toll on the local environment, aggravating respiratory diseases in people living near the wells and generating acid rain that affects agriculture and fishing.
The most privileged communities in Nigeria are powered by generators that, ironically, rely on expensive imported fuel. At that price, “even hairdressers can’t work,” says Westham Adehor, president of Delta-based charity Youth and Development Initiative, or YDI.
The result is a chicken-and-egg situation, where lack of power fuels a seemingly unbreakable cycle of unrest and underdevelopment.
October 5, 2009:
Reuters: ANALYSIS-Jobs for the boys key to peace in Nigeria oil delta
By Nick Tattersall and Austin Ekeinde
PORT HARCOURT, Nigeria, Oct 5 (Reuters) – Thousands of guns, grenades and rounds of ammunition may have been surrendered under an amnesty deal in Nigeria’s oil delta, but peace will only last if work can be found fast for those who disarmed.
Three of the Niger Delta’s militant leaders laid down their weapons over the weekend, the final days of a two-month amnesty period offered by President Umaru Yar’Adua to try to bring an end to years of unrest. Read Full Article
Wall Street Journal: Shell Receives Design To End Nigeria Gas Flaring -Official
IBADAN, Nigeria (Dow Jones)–Shell Petroleum Development Co., a subsidiary of Royal Dutch Shell PLC (RDSB), said Monday that it has taken delivery of a 900 million naira ($6.12 million) detailed engineering design for a project that will put out gas flares in three fields in Nigeria’s western Niger Delta.
Tony Okonedo, SPDC’s corporate media relations manager, said in a statement that Nigerian Technical Co., or NETCO, the engineering arm of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corp., won the contract in December 2007 to design the Associated Gas Solution project for Otumara, which covers the Otumara, Saghara and Opuama fields.
The project involves the collection of gas from the three fields to a central processing facility at Otumara, which will treat and send it for domestic use through the Escravos-Lagos pipeline system.
He said NETCO executed the design with the support of its technical consultants at a cost of over NGN900 million.
Nigeria has issued several deadlines to end gas flaring in its oil-rich Niger Delta region with the threat of sanctions for noncompliance for all oil companies operating in the region.
Nigeria is the world’s seventh-largest gas producer with about 184 trillion standard cubic feet of proven reserves, but flares about 2.2 billion scf a day.
Okonedo said the completion of the detailed design paves the way for construction, procurement and installation of facilities, adding that the Oturama project is ???part of SPDC’s efforts to harness Nigeria’s huge gas resources for profitable use, and end flaring of gas in its operations.???
He said that since 2000 SPDC has invested some $3 billion in gas gathering projects; an additional $3 billion is needed to complete them.
Okonedo said funding and security challenges have delayed implementation of the projects.
-By Obafemi Oredein, Dow Jones Newswires; 234 2 7510489
NyTimes: Nigeria Rebels Want Clear Plans For Those Who Disarm
PORT HARCOURT (Reuters) – Three militant leaders in Nigeria’s oil heartland want concrete plans for fighters who disarm and a clearer government commitment to develop the region before they accept amnesty, sources close to the talks say.
Security and federal officials said on Tuesday Ateke Tom, Government Tompolo and Farah Dagogo, field commanders of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), had held informal talks about accepting an amnesty offer. Read Full Article
August 30, 2009:
Washington Post: In Oil-Rich Niger Delta, the Sun Never Sets
Smokestacks Still Shooting Out Gas Flares
Washington Post Foreign Service
Sunday, August 30, 2009
EBOCHA, Nigeria — Kingsley Okene is the chief here. But despite his authority, he says he has never managed to snuff the giant gas-fueled flames that have towered over his Niger Delta village for decades.
Neither has the government of Nigeria, though it has often vowed to do so.
The flames spout day and night from tall smokestacks, fired by the gas that is a byproduct of oil pumped here by the Italian company Agip. As many as 100 flares burn at petroleum companies’ outposts across the oil-rich delta, belching harmful greenhouse gases and, human rights activists say, sickening residents. Read Full Article
August 15, 2009:
KPFA: Behind the News with Doug Henwood
New York Times: Nigerian Amnesty Plan Faces Difficulties
By ADAM NOSSITER
DAKAR, Senegal — A new peace effort in one of Africa’s most strategic yet troubled regions, Nigeria’s Niger Delta, is being greeted with weary skepticism by experts and citizens who have been caught up in years of violence and other failed attempts to end the conflict.
The Nigerian government, beleaguered by unrest in both the north and south, is trying to quell the southern violence with an amnesty program for militants. For years, fighters demanding a greater share of the region’s wealth have been sabotaging the country’s oil industry, one of the United States’ biggest suppliers, with brazen attacks on pipelines, oil depots and kidnappings of industry workers. Read Full Article
July 17, 2009:
Foreign Policy: A Violent Window of Opportunity – Why troubled times are the perfect chance to calm the Niger Delta.
A YouTube video released last month has caused quite a stir in Nigeria’s oil-rich Niger Delta. The spokesman for the militant group Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) e-mailed out the clip, which depicts two young brothers — one already dead, the other unarmed and begging for his life. A soldier asks the living boy, lying on the floor near his deceased brother, where he is from. “Bonny,” he replies, an oil-producing community in the region. Without pause, the soldiers shoot him twice in the head.
That kind of violence is shocking not so much for its rarity as for its banal familiarity in the Niger Delta, where conflict is today at its height. For nearly a decade, groups such as MEND have attacked oil production infrastructure, usually taking pipelines offline for brief periods. But in the last several months those attacks have picked up — both in frequency and intensity. Confrontations between the militants and the military are increasingly common, and civilian casualties in nearby communities have been devastating. Oil production has fallen drastically.
Yet strange as it sounds, now might be just the time to resolve one of the region’s longest-standing violent conflicts. Read Full Article
July 15, 2009
Associated Press: Analysis: Nigeria oil truce won’t end conflict
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa — A truce called by Nigeria’s leading militant group may provide a brief respite in a conflict crippling Africa’s biggest oil producer but is unlikely to end the fight unless the government addresses decades-old grievances such as pollution, underdevelopment, corruption and lack of freedom.
The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta has been attacking oil installations, kidnapping petroleum company employees and fighting government troops since January 2006 in what it calls a protest against the unrelenting poverty of people in the Niger Delta. Nigeria’s military has fighting a losing battle against opponents using guerrilla tactics in an intricate network of lagoons, creeks, estuaries and mangrove swamps stretching across a million square miles — home to several minority groups and some of Africa’s largest oil deposits. Read Full Article
June 14, 2009
The Independent: Secret papers ‘show how Shell targeted Nigeria oil protests’
Documents seen by The IoS support claims energy giant enlisted help of country’s military government
Serious questions over Shell Oil’s alleged involvement in human rights abuses in Nigeria emerged last night after confidential internal documents and court statements revealed how the energy giant enlisted the help of the country’s brutal former military government to deal with protesters.
The documents, seen by the IoS, support allegations that Shell helped to provide Nigerian police and military with logistical support, and aided security sweeps of the oil-rich Niger Delta. Earlier this month Shell agreed to pay $15.5m (£9.6m) in a “humanitarian settlement” on the eve of a highly embarrassing US lawsuit. Read Full Article
June 13, 2009:
LA Times: Shell settles with Nigerian tribe
The Ogoni claim victory over the oil giant, although the company insists the $15.5-million award is a humanitarian gesture.
After 13 years of litigation, Royal Dutch Shell has agreed to settle with plaintiffs who accused the oil giant of complicity in human rights abuses in Nigeria, the most infamous of which was the execution of prominent playwright, author and environmental activist Ken Saro-Wiwa. A member of the Ogoni tribe, Saro-Wiwa was a vocal critic of Shell and the brutal military government of Gen. Sani Abacha. His eloquence brought international attention to Shell’s questionable environmental practices in the Niger River delta and the government’s lax regulation of environmental laws. Read Full Article
June 10, 2009:
Huffington Post: Shell’s Settlement Doesn’t Hide Unsettling Reality in Nigeria
by Steve Kretzmann
After thirteen years and countless hours by lawyers, community members, and activists around the world, Royal Dutch Shell finally settled the Wiwa v Shell case in a New York court for $15.5 million.
Plaintiffs in the case, which included Ken Saro-Wiwa Jr., and the families of other Ogoni men hanged in November 1995, charged that the Royal Dutch/Shell company, its Nigerian subsidiary, and the former chief of its Nigerian operation, Brian Anderson, with complicity in the torture, killing, and other abuses of Ogoni leader Ken Saro-Wiwa and other non-violent Nigerian activists in the mid-1990s in the Ogoni region of the Niger Delta.
Shell says they settled the case as a “humanitarian gesture” to the Ogoni. Does anyone really believe that after fighting for more than a decade to keep this out of court, Shell suddenly woke up and felt great compassion for the Ogoni? Please. Read Full Article
LA Times: People of Niger Delta see new beginning in settlement for executions
Shell conceded no blame for the deaths of poet and activist Ken Saro-Wiwa and others who were hanged in 1995.
Royal Dutch Shell has agreed to pay $15.5 million in the 1995 slayings of nine environmental and human rights advocates. Local ethnic groups hope it is a first step in righting 50 years of wrongs.
UK Guardian: Shell settlement with Ogoni people stops short of full justice
Payout of $15.5m could backfire now that precedent of a Nigerian community suing a oil company has been set
by John Vidal
Shell’s decision to settle out of court with a group of Ogoni people rather than take them on in New York means a measure of justice has come to the Niger Delta. The sum of $15.5m (£9.6m) may be peanuts for the company and nothing can compensate the 500,000 Ogoni people for generations of devastating pollution, human rights abuses and persecution. But while Shell insists that the result is no admission of guilt, it nevertheless represents a triumph for an impoverished community over one of the richest companies in the world.
What it suggests is that Shell wants to bury the facts about what was happening on the Niger delta in the 1970s and 1980s when it was extracting tens of millions of barrels of oil a year from Ogoniland while allowing the people to slide into destitution as it was destroying their environment. The settlement stops the world knowing exactly what was the company’s relationship with the national government and the military, and the extent of Shell’s involvement in the human rights abuses that led to Ken Saro-Wiwa’s execution. The Ogoni had assembled a formidable case and were being represented by some of the most best human rights lawyers in the world. It could have been intensely embarrassing for the company if it all had come out. Read Full Article
June 9, 2009:
BBC: Shell settles Nigeria deaths case
Royal Dutch Shell has agreed a $15.5m (£9.7m) out-of-court settlement in a case accusing it of complicity in human rights abuses in Nigeria.
It was brought by relatives of nine anti-oil campaigners, including author Ken Saro-Wiwa, who were hanged in 1995 by Nigeria’s then military rulers.
The oil giant strongly denies any wrongdoing and says the payment is part of a “process of reconciliation”.
The case, initiated 13 years ago, had been due for trial in the US next week. Read Full Article
Shell, the big oil company, agreed to pay $15.5 million to settle a case alleging that it took part in human right abuses in the Niger Delta in the mid 1990s, a striking sum given that the company denied any wrongdoing. The settlement, announced late Monday, came days before the start of a trial in New York that was expected to reveal extensive details of Shell’s activities in the Niger Delta. Read Full Article
The Guardian: Some release from the torments of the past
Murdered activist’s son on his reaction to Shell’s $15.5m settlement
Ken Saro-Wiwa Jr
The Guardian, Tuesday 9 June 2009
There was no hat-in-the-air moment, no popping of champagne corks. Instead it was a steady accumulation of conviction conveyed by email to my BlackBerry over the course of a long transatlantic day that included the red eye from JFK in New York to London. Each email was a little less tentative than the previous one until the final confirmation arrived with the curiously tentative subject line: “its done???”
Anti-climax doesn’t quite describe this moment because you know, deep down, that the settlement is only the beginning of a process that you hope will lead to a better outcome for all the stakeholders in this issue but it is the end, for sure, of a 13-year-long court case. Read Full Article
Wall Street Journal: Shell Settles Nigeria Case
Oil Giant to Pay $15.5 Million Over Deaths of Activists
Royal Dutch Shell PLC agreed Monday to pay $15.5 million to settle a lawsuit over the 1995 deaths of Nigerian author and activist Ken Saro-Wiwa and others.
The Anglo-Dutch oil giant faced a lawsuit in federal court in Manhattan under the Alien Tort Claims Act, on allegations that it was complicit in the 1995 deaths of Mr. Saro-Wiwa and other activists. The lawsuit was brought by family members and surviving activists.
Shell has denied it played any role in the execution of Mr. Saro-Wiwa by the military government. In a statement, Malcolm Brinded, head of the company’s exploration and production unit, said: “Shell has always maintained the allegations were false. While we were prepared to go to court to clear our name, we believe the right way forward is to focus on the future for Ogoni people, which is important for peace and stability in the region.” Read Full Article
May 26, 2009:
Democracy Now! Antonia Juhasz on “The True Cost of Chevron: An Alternative Annual Report”
Now Chevron’s annual report reports that 2008 was the company’s most profitable year in history. Just ahead of Chevron’s shareholder meeting, a new report released today tells shareholders more about the hidden and underreported costs of these profits. The alternative annual report is called “The True Cost of Chevron.” It brings together stories from communities across the world—Angola, Burma, Canada, Chad, Cameroon, Ecuador, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Nigeria, the Philippines and the United States—all directly affected by and in struggle against Chevron’s operations. We speak to the report’s author and James Craig, media adviser for Latin America for Chevron.
May 21, 2009:
New York Times: Oil Industry Braces for Trial on Rights Abuses
By: Jad Mouawad Fourteen years after the execution of the Nigerian author and activist Ken Saro-Wiwa by Nigeria’s former military regime, Royal Dutch Shell will appear before a federal court in New York to answer charges of crimes against humanity in connection with his death. Read Full Article May 7, 2009:
Reuters: NY trial to decide Shell’s role in Nigerian deaths
May 4, 2009:
New York Times: A Writer’s Violent End, and His Activist Legacy
“I had a surprising call this week,” the author Richard North Patterson told the audience that had gathered last weekend as part of the PEN World Voices Festival of International Literature. It was former President Bill Clinton. Mr. Patterson’s new novel, “Eclipse,” is based on the case of the Nigerian writer and activist Ken Saro-Wiwa, and Mr. Clinton spoke of a phone call he had made 14 years ago to Gen. Sani Abacha of Nigeria, asking him to spare Mr. Saro-Wiwa from the hangman. Read Full Article April 24, 2009
Frontline World aired this segment on The News Hour with Jim Lehrer on the KBR corruption scandal in Nigeria:
Read Nigeria: Hidden Cost of Corruption by Frontline’s Sam Kennedy to learn who loses when others pocket millions
If any company knew how to get business done in Nigeria’s Niger Delta, it was Willbros Group. The Texas contractor had been laying pipe through the Delta’s mangrove forests since shortly after the discovery of oil there 50 years ago. And so it is telling that in February 2005, Jim Bob Brown, head of Willbros’ Nigerian operations, showed up in the teeming tropical city of Lagos to hand off a suitcase filled with $1 million in cash.
So rampant is corruption in Nigeria that the list of those recently accused of engaging in bribery there includes a U.S. Congressman (indicted after $90,000 of marked money was found in tinfoil-wrapped bundles in his freezer) and a Fortune 500 energy company (then run by soon-to-be Vice President Dick Cheney). Indeed, the Berlin-based group Transparency International has consistently ranked Nigeria among the world’s most corrupt countries. Read Full Article
Huffington Post: Remembering Goldman Environmental Prize Winner Ken Saro Wiwa
Landmark Trial, Wiwa v. Shell, Begins in Five Weeks
by Ka Hsaw Wa, Executive Director of Earth Rights International
On April 20th, seven outstanding environmental leaders were awarded the 2009 Goldman Prize – the “Nobel Prize of the environmental movement” – in San Francisco. As a former prize winner, my congratulations go out to them, along with my wishes for the success of their important struggles; but my heart and thoughts are also with another fellow Goldman Prize winner, whose soul has passed on but whose fierce struggle continues. Fourteen years ago, Ken Saro-Wiwa received the Goldman Prize for his leadership of a powerful non-violent movement against oil giant Royal Dutch Shell in the Ogoni region of Nigeria. He was hanged seven months later after a sham trial condemned around the world….
On April 20th, I and previous Goldman Prize recipients issued an open letter in memory of Ken Saro-Wiwa. As we mourn his unjust and untimely death, we also celebrate his and the Ogoni people’s victory in exposing Shell’s actions to the world, and we raise our voices in unity to call for environmental justice, corporate accountability, and respect for human rights – in Ogoni and around the globe. Read Full Article
April 23, 2009
Bloomberg: Shell Must Defend Nigerian Rights Suit, Judge Says
Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Europe’s biggest oil company, must face a lawsuit seeking to hold it responsible for violations of international law by Nigeria’s military government, a judge ruled.
U.S. District Judge Kimba Wood in New York refused today to toss out the case on jurisdictional grounds in a setback for Shell. A trial in the case, which was brought by relatives of human-rights activists killed in Nigeria, is scheduled to begin in New York on May 26.
“Once again Shell thought it could evade justice,” Jennie Green, a lawyer with the New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights, which represents the plaintiffs, said in a statement. “Now, the public will have the opportunity to see how Shell’s complicity with a murderous military regime was its standard operating procedure for doing business in Nigeria.” Read Full Article
April 12, 2009
CBS 5: Chevron Vs. Nigerian Villagers Case In SF Court
(San Francisco AP) A federal judge in San Francisco is due to hear arguments April 24 on whether a group of Nigerian villagers who lost their lawsuit against Chevron Corp. should be ordered to pay the oil company $485,000 for court costs. Go to full article
March 19, 2009
Business Day: US SEC probes Shell over alleged bribery in Nigeria
by John Osadolor
Oil giant Shell has joined the league of multi-national companies being probed or fined for graft in Nigeria. The Anglo-Dutch firm “is at the centre of an embarrassing investigation which could lead to the imposition of hefty fines”. Go to full article
March 17, 2009
The Guardian Shell Dumps Wind, Solar and Hydro Power in Favor of Biofuels
Shell will no longer invest in renewable technologies such as wind, solar and hydro power because they are not economic, the Anglo-Dutch oil company said today. It plans to invest more in biofuels which environmental groups blame for driving up food prices and deforestation. Go to full article
March 13, 2009
National Law Journal: Chevron Draws Criticism for Seeking Court Costs From Nigerians After Winning Human Rights Case
Civil rights lawyers, who accused Chevron Corp. of human rights abuses in Nigeria for a decade only to lose a jury verdict in December, now accuse the oil giant of trying to scare off future civil rights cases by seeking $485,000 in court costs from the Nigerians.
“Given the extreme poverty of the plaintiffs, of which Chevron is well aware, Chevron certainly cannot be operating under the impression that it will actually recover this huge sum from them,” wrote Cindy Cohn, attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation in San Francisco, representing the plaintiffs.
“Instead it seems likely that the goal of the cost bill is the chilling effect of imposing substantial costs on future litigants,” she wrote in a letter to U.S. District Judge Susan Illston on March 11.
Chevron responded through its attorney Robert Mittelstaedt of Jones Day‘s office in San Francisco. “Chevron is exercising its right to seek to recover a portion of the costs it was forced to incur during 10 years of litigation,” he said. “Further comment would be inappropriate while the matter is pending before the court.”
Cohn asked Illston to hear arguments on May 1 over Chevron’s right to claim costs before even beginning to address the issue of how much the company might be entitled to. Bowoto v. Chevron Corp., C99-2506SI (N. Dist. Calif.).
“This case qualifies for a denial of discretionary costs,” Cohn said, and pointed to a 1999 case in the 9th Circuit in which the University of Southern California attempted to recover costs from a female athletic coach who sued the school for alleged sex discrimination. Stanley v. USC, 178 F.3d 1069 (9th Cir. 1999).
In the Stanley case, the appeals court held that imposition of “high costs on losing civil rights plaintiffs of modest means may chill civil rights litigation in this area.” The court added, “Without civil rights litigants who are willing to test the boundaries of our laws, we would not have made much of the progress that has occurred in this nation since Brown v. Board of Educ., 347 U.S. 483 (1954).”
A federal jury on Dec. 1 denied claims that the Nigerian villagers were the victims of torture and wrongful death stemming from a 1998 protest. Ilaje tribal members had sailed to the Parabe oil platform off the coast of Nigeria in what they claim was a peaceful protest. Chevron argued that the villagers had planned to take hostages.
Chevron called in the Nigerian military to resolve the tense situation. Several villagers were killed by the military. The suit alleged that Chevron should be liable for aiding the Nigerian military.
The case was one of the first to go to a jury trial under the Alien Tort Claims Act, a 200-year-old law that allows foreigners to seek damages for injuries at the hands of American companies overseas.
February 9, 2009
LA Times: Chevron seeks reimbursement from villagers who sued over 1998 shooting
Reporting from San Francisco — Chevron Corp., which prevailed in a human-rights lawsuit seeking to hold it responsible for the shooting of Nigerian protesters at an oil platform, is seeking nearly $500,000 in legal costs from the villagers who brought the suit. Read Full Article
SF Chronicle: Chevron Seeks Legal Costs from Nigerians
By Demian Bulwa – Chronicle Staff Writer
Chevron Corp. is seeking to recoup $485,000 in litigation costs from a group of Nigerian villagers who unsuccessfully sued the big energy company over the shootings of protesters who occupied an offshore oil rig, a legal move that an attorney for the Nigerians said was designed to scare off foreigners from bringing similar lawsuits in the future. Read Full Article
Huffington Post: Chevron Seeks Money from Wounded and Tortured Protesters
The mistreatment of locals in oil rich countries by rich oil companies is nothing new. We all know about the collusion that goes on between oil companies and despotic and corrupt governments all over the world, especially in Africa. Read Full Article
The Chevron Pit: WTF is going on? Is Chevron just evil?
News out of San Francisco today: Chevron, which posted a record profit of $23.8 billion in 2008 is suing a group of Nigerian villagers for almost $500,000 in legal costs resulting from a embarrassing legal case (Bowoto v. Chevron) that Chevron narrowly survived this past November…Well, now Chevron has added insult to injury, seeking $500,000 from the villagers who sued the company. So, people on Chevron’s payroll literally shot the villagers, and now Chevron wants the villagers to pay the corporation for daring to take the company to trial over the shootings. Read Full Article
January 28, 2009
KQED: Forum - Interview with Richard North Patterson
Author Richard North Patterson talked about his new novel, “Eclipse,” a tale of oil and corruption in Africa inspired in part by the story of slain Nigerian human rights activist Ken Saro-Wiwa.
Listen at for a question from Earth Rights International campaigner who asked about the upcoming trial against Shell regarding their complicity in the killing of Ken Saro Wiwa and the Ogoni 9 and at the end of the program for a question by JINN staffer, Sarah who asked about Chevron and what the author knew about peaceful movements in the Niger Delta. Listen to Show
October 20, 2008
KPFA’s Africa Today with Walter Turner interviewed Nnimmo Bassey – Executive Director of Environmental Rights Action
On September 23, Senator Richard Durbin (IL), Chair of the Senate Subcommittee on Human Rights and the Law held a hearing regarding the oil industry and issues of human rights abuses. Walter spoke to Nnimmo about the hearing, the upcoming case against Chevron and other topics. Listen to the Show
New York Times: Sex, Drug Use and Graft Cited in Interior Department
By Charles Savage
September 10, 2008
Wide-Ranging Ethics Scandal Emerges at Interior Dept. / Chevron Directly Implicated
New York Times: Former KBR Executive Pleads Guilty to Bribery
September 3, 2008
By CLIFFORD KRAUSS
A former chief executive of the former Halliburton subsidiary pleaded guilty to federal bribery and kickback charges in connection with work done in Nigeria from 1995 to 2004. Go to Full Article