Friday, December 10, 2010

Shell Oil can go to Hell

WikiLeaks continues to release more documents from its trove of some quarter million classified U.S. diplomatic cables. Among the new disclosures is a claim that the oil giant Royal Dutch Shell essentially infiltrated the Nigerian government to monitor and influence decisions related to its business in the Niger Delta. A cable from October 2009 quotes Ann Pickard, then Shell’s vice president in Africa, saying that the Nigerian government "forgot] that Shell had seconded people to all the relevant ministries and that Shell consequently had access to everything that was being done in those ministries." An earlier cable from 2008 shows that Shell passed intelligence claims to U.S. diplomats, including naming two Nigerian politicians the company said were backing Nigerian militants. Shell officials also asked the United States to relay information on whether Nigerian militants had acquired anti-aircraft missiles. In an ironic aside, one cable quotes the Shell executive, Ann Pickard, as saying she’s hesitant to talk to U.S. officials because the U.S. government is "leaky." The cable continues, "She may be concerned that ... bad news about Shell’s Nigerian operations will leak out." In response to the cables, Celestine AkpoBari of the group Social Action Nigeria said, "Shell is everywhere. They have an eye and an ear in every ministry of Nigeria… They are more powerful than the Nigerian government."

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