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Oct 11, 2012

Four Nigerian Plaintiffs take Shell to Court in The Netherlands

by Denis Burke — last modified Oct 11, 2012 05:50 PM
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Plaintiffs from devastated communities in Nigeria tell their stories in their own words.

For the first time in history, a European company, Anglo-Dutch oil giant Shall, has been brought to court in The Netherlands for damages it caused abroad. The plaintiffs are four Nigerians whose livelihoods and communities have been massively impacted by Shell's operations.



Plaintiff Alali Efanga takes Shell to court for pollution in Nigeria


The court case against Shell's oil spills in the Niger delta has been filed by the four Nigerian plaintiffs in conjunction with Friends of the Earth Netherlands and supported by Friends of the Earth Nigeria.


Plaintiff Chief Erich Dooh


The plaintiffs are demanding that Shell cleans up oil pollution in their villages and compensates them for damages they incurred. In this interview, Alali Efanga from the village of Oruma describes how he and his community have been affected by the oil spills.


Lawyers for both parties pleaded at a key hearing in The Hague on October 11, with a verdict expected on January 30, 2013.


Sep 18, 2012

Join the Global Frackdown for a Ban on Fracking!

by Denis Burke — last modified Sep 18, 2012 10:20 AM

Friends of the Earth International is supporting Global Frackdown, a mass global day of action on Saturday, September 22 demanding a ban on fracking around the world.

Frack Down

Fracking is a relatively new and highly destructive way of extracting oil or gas from the ground. It involves injecting millions of gallons of water mixed with sand and chemicals into hard shale rocks at high pressure to release the gas or oil that is trapped inside.


Gas from fracking (known as ‘shale gas’) is being promoted as ‘clean energy’, but the reality is very different. Fracking threatens our air, water, communities and climate. Fracking:


  • taps into a new and vast source of high carbon fossil fuels - one of the main causes of climate change and irreversible and catastrophic climate impacts
  • uses enormous quantities of water, an already scarce resource
  • involves highly toxic chemicals which can escape and pollute local drinking water supplies
  • will very likely lead to the forced displacement of communities and small farmers like other forms of fossil fuel extraction
  • releases dangerous levels of methane, another potent greenhouse gas that can also leak into nearby water supplies and cause explosions
  • can cause earth tremors


Fracking is just one aspect of the corporate-controlled global dirty energy system which we need to transform if we are to avert catastrophic climate change and improve the health, wellbeing and livelihoods of communities around the world. Dirty fossil fuels like oil, gas and coal, and other dirty energies like agrofuels and energy from destructive mega-dams and waste incineration harm communities and the environment whilst mostly serving the energy needs of corporations, not ordinary people.


We need to replace this unsustainable and exploitative energy model with energy systems based on appropriate, clean, renewable energy under real democratic and community control.


This transformation is already under way, and Friends of the Earth International is campaigning to help make it a reality. One of the first steps is stopping dirty energy, and that is why we are supporting Global Frackdown, an initiative of Food & Water Watch.


Around the world hundreds of communities are organising to protect their land and water and resist fracking. Communities and campaigners have managed to stop fracking in Bulgaria and France. Campaigners in South Africa won a temporary moratorium, but saw this lifted last week showing that more pressure and global solidarity is needed.


Global Frackdown will unite concerned citizens everywhere for a day of action on September 22, 2012.


Over 125 actions are being planned all over the world to demand that decision makers oppose fracking and send a message to governments that we want a future fueled by clean, renewable energy, not dirty, polluting fossil fuels. For more information



Some more information from Friends of the Earth Groups on Fracking

FoE England, Wales and Northern Ireland background information
FoE Ireland
recent community panel discussion
FoE Scotland

background information

FoE Europe






Feb 22, 2012

Europe must defy Canadian pressure on tar sands

by PhilLee — last modified Feb 22, 2012 12:20 PM

Nobel Peace laureates urge support to keep tar sands out of Europe.

tar sands handOn 23 February representatives from European governments will decide on plans to keep tar sands out of Europe. Friends of the Earth Europe is urging European governments to say no to the dirtiest forms of unconventional oil and defy pressure from both the Canadian and big oil lobbies. 


Last week, eight Nobel Peace laureates wrote to European heads of states to ask them to support the European Commission's efforts to keep tar sands out of Europe. This follows on from a letter written to President Obama which asked him to reject the proposal for the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline – bringing oil from Canadian tar sands into the US. Obama rejected the Keystone XL pipeline proposal last month.

Tar sands are the most climate hostile energy source in commercial production today. Producing oil from tar sands results in more than 20 % greenhouse gases (GHGs) than from conventional oil production.

Tar sands exploitation destroys pristine boreal forest and peatlands, produces huge quantities of toxic waste, pollutes air and water, devastates local wildlife and threatens the traditional livelihoods of indigenous communities around the world.


Further information

Find out more and take action on the Friends of the Earth Europe website

Jan 19, 2012

President Obama rejects the Keystone XL pipeline

by PhilLee — last modified Jan 19, 2012 12:00 PM
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Friends of the Earth US is celebrating the Obama administration's decision to reject the permit for the Keystone XL tar sands oil pipeline sought by Canadian oil firm TransCanada, determining that the project was not in the national interest.

no to xl pipeline"President Obama has shown bold leadership in standing up to Big Oil and rejecting the Keystone XL pipeline," said Erich Pica, president of Friends of the Earth.


"The climate movement took on Goliath and won, demonstrating its growing strength. Sustained grassroots pressure aimed at holding the president accountable to the public interest proved more powerful than all the lobbyists and campaign cash the oil industry could muster."

This iconic David versus Goliath victory was fueled by years of persistent grassroots campaigning to stop the project led by indigenous activists, environmentalists, farmers, ranchers and youth climate activists. Americans submitted more than 250,000 public comments against the proposal, several thousand more turned out in small-town Nebraska, in Texas and in Washington, D.C. to testify against the pipeline in public hearings -- and 1,253 people played a pivotal role in August by getting arrested during peaceful sit-ins on the president's doorstep.

The Keystone XL pipeline would have pumped the world's dirtiest oil - tar sands oil - from Canada across America's heartland to Texas

Further information

Find out more about this historic campaign

Nov 09, 2011

Memory, Truth and Justice for Heroes in the Resistance against Mining Oil and Gas

by PhilLee — last modified Nov 09, 2011 03:30 PM

On the 16th anniversary of the murder of Nigerian writer Ken Saro-Wiwa we have released a report to honour those involved in the struggle for justice for the communities who suffer the consequences of extractive industries.

heroes coverThe report exposes the murders of many human rights and environmental activists all over the world for defending their rights and natural resources.


Read the report


To this day, the list of community rights defenders, human rights advocates, environmentalists, indigenous peoples leaders, church people, and social activists killed in the course of their struggle against mining, oil and gas around the world continues to grow longer.

call on governments to hold oil companies to account and abandon unwanted new projects

Nigeria: Last August the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) released a report that detailed the absolute tragedy that is occurring in Ogoniland (Niger Delta) due to devastating oil spills in the past five decades.


Shell must pay for the cleanup and they must make good for the human rights abuses that they facilitated.

Please tell Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan to declare an environmental state of emergency in Ogoniland, and to hold Shell accountable for this emergency


United States: As the pursuit for ever scarer reserves of oil and gas intensifies so do the Injustices against communities. The Keystone XL pipeline would double imports of dirty tar sands oil into the US and endanger the health of communities and ecosystems all along its path from Canada to the Gulf Coast of Texas.


Tell President Obama to show oil lobbyists the door and reject the Keystone XL pipeline

Aug 12, 2011

The agony of Ogoni

by PhilLee — last modified Aug 12, 2011 11:00 AM

FoEI Chair Nnimmo Bassey writes about the recent United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) report that reveals the true extent of the environmental devastation, caused by fifty years of oil operations in Ogoniland, Nigeria.

UNEP scientists inspecting a pipeline right of way around 30 metres wide cut through mangroves in Ogoniland
UNEP scientists inspecting a pipeline right of way around 30 metres wide cut through mangroves in Ogoniland. © Victor Temofe Mogbolu/UNEP
When the Ogoni people demanded a halt to the unwholesome acts of the Shell Production and Development Company (SPDC or Shell) and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), the government called them names and unleashed security agents to maim, rape and murder and hound many into exile. 


The report on the pollution of Ogoniland prepared by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and released on August 4, 2011, marks the first official confirmation that there is a major tragedy on our hands. UNEP's report unequivocally shows that the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP) under the prescient leadership of Ken Saro-Wiwa was not crying wolf when it maintained that grave injustice was being inflicted on Ogoniland.


UNEP officials say the report was issued to respond to innuendos. At over $9 million, this must be the most expensive innuendo-dousing report on record. Whether the "innuendo" provoked the study or the release of the study is not known. But if it was that the report was a prelude to resumption of oil exploitation in Ogoniland, it is certainly not doused.


It is shocking that in the face of the Ogoni tragic environment the UNEP report suggests a possible restarting of oil exploitation in Ogoniland. That may be likened to obtaining blood from a dying man.


suspicions confirmed

The report largely says what has been known and said before. But this is official and very valuable. When Shell doled out the funds for the study, they claimed they did so on the basis of the polluter-pays principle. True. Shell polluted Ogoniland, just as they and other companies have done and continue to do all over the Niger Delta.


Claims by Shell that a majority of the oil spills in Ogoni are caused by interference by local people flies in the face of the observations in the UNEP report. The report says the bush refineries, for example, became prominent from 2007. Obviously, one of the conclusions should have been that with livelihoods utterly destroyed, some of the people had to find a means of survival and chose this unfortunate and illegal trade. With UNEP's obvious care not to antagonise Shell in the report, this path was not pursued.


In a critique of the UNEP report, Richard Steiner of Oasis Earth organisation, Alaska, writes: "The UNEP report devotes several pages (161-166) specifically to artisanal refining at the Bodo West oilfield, and correctly reports an unfortunate increase in such between 2007 and 2011. However, in this analysis of oil pollution in this region, UNEP entirely ignores the other much larger source of oil spilled into this same region in that same time period - the twin ruptures of the Trans Niger Pipeline (TNP) caused by SPDC negligence in 2008 and 2009. Together these spills contributed between 250,000 - 350,000 barrels of oil into this system, orders of magnitude more than illegal refining. Much of the oil at Bodo West area likely derived from the TNP Bodo spills." How do these compare to the volume of spills from artisanal refineries?


Professor Steiner also wonders why the UNEP study report says that "no single clear and continuous source of spilled oil was observed or reported during UNEP's site visits," whereas the massive spills at Bodo occurred at the time of the study and the combined spill volume may well exceed that of the Exxon Valdez that occurred in Alaska in 1989.


A break from the past

Much has already been said about the contents of the report and the dire state of the Ogoni environment. A significant problem that may scuttle efforts at acceptable cleanup of Ogoniland is the lack of capacity or unwillingness of Nigerian regulatory agencies to enforce laws and to act independently. Their independence is of course affected by the fact that Shell has infiltrated the petroleum ministry in a deep and total way (remember WikiLeaks cables). If government is serious about regulating the sector it will need to ensure that those called to make this happen are not connected to Shell's umbilical cord.


How, for instance, could government officials certify that oil spills have been cleared up and impacted areas remediated whereas the contrary is the case? According to UNEP there are 10 "remediation completed" sites showing ongoing pollution in Ogoni. Shell's spill management was also called to question as they use incompetent contractors for jobs that require knowledge, skills and equipment.


The confirmation that Shell has poor diligence in its oil spill responses and that our regulatory agencies endorse the pattern raises serious issues about the situation in other parts of the Niger Delta where this impunity continues unabated.


Other matters arising from the UNEP report that call for immediate follow-up include the inconclusive study on public health issues even though a gamut of medical records were surveyed. Same about vegetation and also rainwater that the people turn to in the face of living beside polluted rivers, creeks and waterways.


We now have official confirmation that the Ogoni people are drinking water polluted 900 times above World Health Organisation's standards. We also now know that the ground is polluted up to a depth of 5 metres at some places. We know that there are cancer causing elements in the water and in the air. We also know that there are toxic wastes dumped in unlined pits in Ogoniland. These issues are replicated all over the Niger Delta. But they are heightened in those areas because you must factor in the highly toxic gas flares.


Ogoniland (read Niger Delta) ranks as one of the most polluted places on earth. What is urgently needed is for the federal government to declare an environmental state of emergency here. Ecological problems do not observe community or political boundaries. How the government handles this case will tell a lot about who we are as a people.


Further reading

Read our press release on the UNEP report
Read the UNEP report

May 02, 2011

Protesting against the world's largest gold mining company

by PhilLee — last modified May 02, 2011 02:16 PM

Natalie Lowrey from Friends of the Earth Australia reports back on her attempts to question Barrick Gold at its annual general meeting and her participation in a 200 strong protest against the corporations dire human and environmental rights record.

barrick gold agm 2011-3On 27 April, the day of the meeting, my intention was to gain access to the AGM and ask a few difficult questions of the board. Sakura Saunders, co-editor of, owned a share in Barrick Gold and was therefore entitled entry to the AGM, or send a proxy, as is the right of any shareholder. I was to be Sakura's proxy.


However, as soon as I walked up to the registration desk I was surrounded by three burly cops that knew my name. I was asked whether I was there to disrupt the meeting. I replied 'No', I was there to ask questions on Barrick Gold's mine in Lake Cowal, Australia and I had a proxy.


I was then handed over to a man who was official Barrick Gold security. He also asked me what my intentions were. When he led me back to the registration desk I noted a piece of paper with my name on it, the Papua New Guinea representatives' names and those of a few other people who have been campaigning with communities impacted by Barrick Gold. They told me at the desk that my proxy hadn't been registered.


I went back outside and asked Sakura, the shareholder, to go in. They also refused to let her in. She is now in process of seeking legal advice as it is illegal to not let a shareholder into an AGM.



Meanwhile the two community members from Porgera, Papua New Guinea, Jethro Tulin and Mark Ekepa were delayed getting into Canada. This saga had started the night before when they were trying to leave the United States. As they were going through the boarding process they were stopped and told that they couldn't go to Canada because they didn't have visas. Both have come to Canada for the past three years and never had this problem. We are not sure if the power of Barrick is behind this or it's simply coincidental. We are investigating.


Pieter, a member of the Lawyers Environmental Action Team/Friends of the Earth Tanzania also had a proxy - fortunately he got in as he has never been directly associated with the work of any protest group. Before he read the Tanzanian statement and questions he had prepared he also stated that I had not been allowed in with my proxy and that the Papua New Guineas hadn't made it in time.


Aaron Regent, the CEO of Barrick Gold stated that it was a shame that the Papua New Guineans' flight had been delayed. How did Barrick Gold know that the Papua New Guinean delegation's plane was delayed? This does pose the question whether Barrick Gold is trying all avenues to make sure affected communities don't get to ask questions inside their shareholder meetings.



barrick gold agm 2011-1Meanwhile outside the meeting up to 200 people gathered with colour and music rallying against Barrick's ongoing environmental and human rights abuses around the world.'s editor, Sakura Saunders introduced the speakers, which included: Myself (Natalie Lowrey), Friends of the Earth Australia; Catherine Coumans, Mining Watch Canada; Jacob Nuremberg, Anthropology student the University of Toronto (UofT) and organiser for the UofT General Assembly and Munk Out of UofT campaign; Illian Burbano, CUPE International Solidarity; Marcos from Latin American Solidarity Coalition and Jethro Tulin from the Porgera Alliance.


The rally started outside Barrick's shareholder meeting at the Toronto Metro Convention Center then we all marched to Barrick Gold's head office.


The rally was supported by:,, , http://munkoutofuoft.wordpress/ , , , , ,


Read the Friends of the Earth International press release


Thanks for your ongoing support. We have two mining conferences we will be attending with other mining impacted communities before we hit the road for a speaking tour to Southern Ontario, Montreal and New York for the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. We will be keeping you posted, you can also get updates by joining facebook and twitter


Photos: Top, Natalie Lowrey outside the Barrick Gold AGM. Bottom: Protesters outside the AGM. Credit: Allan Lissner

Apr 03, 2011

Killings, criminalization and degradation at the North Mara Mine, Tanzania

by PhilLee — last modified Apr 03, 2011 03:15 PM

Sakura Saunders, co-editor, writes about recent fatal clashes between local people and the security forces at the North Mara Mine in Tanzania.

tara mine tanzaniaOn May 16, over 1,000 people entered a mine in northern Tanzania, desperate to collect whatever gold they could from the modern industrial site that used to be their bread and butter. But instead of providing the displaced artisanal miners with a boost to their meager income, the day ended in horror.


The next day, African Barrick Gold, a subsidiary of Toronto-based Barrick Gold, released a statement admitting that seven people were killed and twelve injured at their North Mara mine in Tanzania. The killings came at the hands of Tanzanian police, who Barrick originally claimed were under sustained attack by 800 “criminal intruders” (a number Barrick revised to 1,500), who illegally entered the North Mara mine to steal gold ore. Since this fatal confrontation, tensions have been high in the Tarime District, with an increase in the number of police, the deployment of water cannons, the arrest of journalists and two members of parliament for “instigating violence,” and the theft of five of the seven bodies from the mortuary by police.


Confrontations between local people and the mine’s security forces are not uncommon near Barrick’s North Mara mine in Tanzania. As Bloomberg journalist Cam Simpson reported in a December 2010 feature story about the mine, before this latest massacre “at least seven people have been killed in clashes with security forces at the mine in the past two years.” These security forces, according to company documents, include police who Barrick pays to guard its North Mara mine.


“They are not arresting them or taking them to court,” said Machage Bartholomew Machage, a member of the Tarime District Council, the highest local government body, in an interview with Simpson. “They are just shooting them.”


One week after the most recent spate of killings, the police stormed a local mortuary and stole the bodies of four of the dead. This move, according to locals, was to prevent the villagers from holding a planned memorial service at the mine on Tuesday.


Police also arrested and charged two members of Parliament, a legal advisor, and journalists for “instigating people to cause violence.” MP Tundu Lissu, who was among those arrested, was in Tarime to assist with post-mortem medical examinations of bodies to identify exactly which parts of the bodies of the deceased were shot by the police.


“Normally if you shoot a person on the head it means you intended to kill them. However, if you shoot them on the leg it means you tried to stop them from doing something… this exercise will help us to know the police’s intention,” he explained to local journalists. Tundu was arrested two days later at the funeral of the local villagers killed by Barrick security.


At this time, Lissu and six others remain in police custody and their bail has been denied. Meanwhile, the four journalists, MP Esther Matiko, and opposition cadre John Heche posted bail and were released after six hours in custody.


According to George Marato of Tazania’s Guardian newspaper, these violent confrontations can be blamed in part on corruption amongst the security forces at Barrick’s mine. According to his interviews with locals following the latest killings, police and company staff conspire to facilitate illegal entry into the premises to scoop sand with gold concentrates. For example, one group would pay one million shillings (around $650) in exchange for a half-hour of scooping sand from the ground.


The violent confrontations occur, according to Marato, when disagreements arise over the amount of compensation for company insiders, often due to hikes in “gold theft fees.” He writes, “Ensuing wars of words turn into confrontations that provoke policemen to fire at the very people who had been co-conspirators not long previously.”


This situation, according to Marato, is then compounded by local youngsters who attempt to force their way to the compound to scoop the sand free of charge.


Tensions with the locals can be traced back to the mine’s early history of displacement and dispossession. Before the mine opened, an estimated 40,000 people living in the area, a large majority of the population, depended on small-scale mining for their livelihoods, according to a history compiled by the mine’s first proponent, Afrika Mashariki Gold Mines Ltd.


Small scale miners, represented by five villages, had mineral rights to the lands that they mined, but were forced to sell these claims to Afrika Mashariki under illegal and irregular circumstances, according to a legal complaint launched in July 2003 by the Lawyers Environmental Action Team (LEAT) on behalf of 1,273 former small-scale miners. In another lawsuit, 43 landowners alleged to have been paid no compensation, while being forcefully evicted from their lands.


Since then, there have been multiple fatal confrontations at the mine site. In December 2008, one such incident resulted in a civilian uprising where locals set fire to $7 million worth in mine equipment. This number, which was originally estimated at upwards of $15 million, is disputed by locals. As now, Barrick blamed the damage to equipment on “well-organized groups” that raided the mine site. However, signed affidavits [1, 2] from witnesses to the event claim that angry villagers had only set one Caterpillar loader on fire on a road outside the mine, after they had heard of the killing of their compatriot. These affidavits and others [3, 4] describe this incident in detail, as well as documenting the history of violence and impunity at the mine site, and the criminalization of community advocates following the murders.

Mar 24, 2011

Oil drilling halted in northern Norway

by PhilLee — last modified Mar 24, 2011 05:19 PM
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Friends of the Earth Norway are celebrating the decision of the Norwegian government, despite massive pressure from the oil industry, to hold off on oil activity in the areas of Lofoten, Vesterålen and Senja in the north of the country.

Oil drilling halted in northern NorwayThe decision, made on March 11, has been the main campaign priority of the Norwegian environmental movement for many years due to the ecological sensitivity of the area just above the Arctic circle. The area is a breeding ground for increasingly endangered marine life such as cod.

In addition to pressure from environmentalists and local fishermen, the minister involved in the decision cited the Deepwater Horizon oil spill that took place in the Gulf of Mexico last year as an influencing factor.

"The chances for such an accident are small, but the consequences would be enormous," said Erik Solheim, the Environment minister.

Speaking on the victory Friends of the Earth Norway's Lars Haltbrekken said:

"We are very pleased that the government has decided not to start an impact assessment study of oil exploration off Lofoten and Vesteraalen in the lifetime of this parliament.

"We, along with others, had long warned against oil activities in this vulnerable regions given the presence of fish stocks and marine life.

"At the same time we know that the issue will come up again in 2014 both in Lofoten and Vesteraalen, but also in key (cod) spawning and nursing areas off the coast of the (nearby) Moere region."


Photo credit: Carl-Frederic Salicath

Dec 13, 2010

Court says 'No' to Crucitas gold mine

by PhilLee — last modified Dec 13, 2010 04:05 PM
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Friends of the Earth Costa Rica are celebrating a recent high court ruling that has declared the licence for an open-pit gold mine in the town of Las Crucitas to be invalid.

crucitas mining demonstration

Friends of the Earth Costa Rica (FoE Costa Rica), environmental organisations and the residents of Las Crucitas, have been campaigning against opening up the northern border region to mining for 17 years.


During that time they have initiated several legal processes, demonstrated outside the mine, marched on parliament and even engaged in hunger strikes.


The region, in the north close to the Nicaraguan border, is rich in biodiversity and home to endangered species of trees and the great green macaw. It was supposedly protected by Costa Rica's strict laws on environmental preservation. However, in 2008 the then president Oscar Arias overruled these laws by declaring that mining in Las Crucitas would be in the national interest. And so opposition to the mine continued.


The open-pit method of mining the company were going to use involves the use of cyanide and is one of the most destructive industrial practices there is. It's considered so dangerous that in May 2010 the European Parliament issued a resolution on the general prohibition of the use of technologies based on cyanide mining.


A breakthrough came when Oscar Arias' presidential term came to an end in early 2010 and the groups in opposition to the mine petitioned the new president Laura Chincilla to repeal the national interest decree.


As a result the case finally returned to court and the national interest decree was declared invalid along with the mining contract. The court also ordered a criminal investigation into the former president and environment minister for having signed off on a decree stating that the open-pit gold mine was in the public’s interest. The court found that since environmental studies were incomplete, Oscar Arias’ signing of the decree was illegal.


Speaking on the verdict Javier Baltodano from FoE Costa Rica said:


"This is a victory for the Earth, for Nature, and as a movement we have always felt the Federation very close to us".


Unfortunately the fight is not completely over as the Canadian mining company has lodged an appeal and may also seek international arbitration. 


Javier Baltodano believes the mining company has no case and should leave the country sooner rather than later:


"Former President Oscar Arias was responsible, and he must be the one to blame in the case the mining company files a complaint”, he said, referring to the Free Trade Agreement signed by Costa Rica with Canada which opens the door to these kinds of claims.


"The company is responsible because it continued with the project despite clear regulations against it. They carried on with the support of politicians, and they are the ones that must respond if the company files a complaint, not the Costa Rican State."


Citing various referenda that have taken place over the years, Baltodano said 98 per cent of Costa Ricans oppose these kind of extractive projects. Once the decision becomes final Costa Ricans "will lift the burden off our shoulders" he concluded.


Photo credit: flickr/betobeto

Sep 08, 2010

Court to handle Milieudefensie request to inspect Shell documents

by PhilLee — last modified Sep 08, 2010 03:00 PM

The lawyer for Milieudefensie / Friends of the Earth Netherlands - also representing three Nigerian farmers – has submitted to The Hague court an additional written request to obtain access to thirty of Shell’s internal documents.

nigerian gas flaring 2This is necessary because Shell has so far refused to allow inspection of the documents. The request is part of a court case* involving four Nigerian farmers and fishers and Milieudefensie versus the oil company, due to severe oil pollution in the Niger Delta in Nigeria.


Milieudefensie and the farmers requested the documents, which could provide additional evidence in the case, from Shell earlier this year via the court. The company denied access. Therefore the lawyer for Milieudefensie and the Nigerians have submitted an additional request (called a statement of reply), which requests that the court compel Shell to allow inspection. Shell then can submit a defence in writing.

"This refusal to allow access is typical of Shell," said Geert Ritsema of Milieudefensie. "The company excels at erecting smoke screens and obstructions to prevent being held responsible for the damage and oil pollution it has caused in the Niger Delta. We are optimistic that the court will recognise that the documents we have requested are of importance in helping the Nigerian farmers and fishers defend their rights."

Earlier in 2010, Shell presented purely legal and formal reasons to deny access to the documents. Especially noteworthy is that the oil multinational additionally claimed that the requested documents – a daily logbook detailing the effects of oil leaks, as required by Nigerian law – simply do not exist.


Milieudefensie and the Nigerians hope to be able to use the documents they have requested to uncover new evidence for the key claim in the case: that Shell’s Dutch headquarters shares responsibility for the actions of its subsidiary in Nigeria, and so also for the leaks which the case centres on. Access is also requested to documents concerning specific leaks in the villages of Oruma and Goi.


The legal case of Milieudefensie and four Nigerian farmers and fishers versus Shell consists of three cases of oil leaks in the Nigerian villages of Oruma, Goi and Ikot Ada Udo. The court cases have been brought before the court in The Hague, where Shell’s international headquarters is located. The Nigerian plaintiffs, who lost their livelihoods after oil from leaking Shell pipelines streamed over their fields and into their fish ponds, are demanding that Shell properly clean up the oil and compensate them for the damage they have suffered.

Find out more about the case, including background, a timeline and legal documents

May 31, 2010

Shell takes a first step towards solving the gas flaring issue in Nigeria

by PhilLee — last modified May 31, 2010 04:50 PM

Anglo-Dutch oil giant Shell has announced that it will invest 600 million dollars in gas installations to recover gas released in oil production in Nigeria.

5On May 21 2010 Shell succumbed to decades of campaigning and announced that they would finally do something about gas flaring, a practice that devastates the environment and the health of communities that live near flare sites. It also contributes significantly to climate change by pumping an estimated 400 million tons of carbon dioxide a year into the atmosphere.


For years Friends of the Earth International and many of our member groups, such as those in the Netherlands and Nigeria, have been campaigning against this outdated and wasteful practice, which has technically been illegal since 1979 under Nigerian law.


Shell’s investment will be added to by the other partners in Shell's joint venture in Nigeria - Total, Agip and the Nigerian state oil company NNCP – to a total amount of 2 billion dollars. With that, Shell says it can extinguish 26 flares. That is just under a quarter of the total numbers of flares now burning in Nigeria.


Friends of the Earth campaigners have treated the news with caution:


Geert Ritsema from Friends of the Earth Netherlands /Milieudefensie said:


"This is a small, but not insignificant step in the right direction. We will only believe it after those 26 flares have actually been extinguished. The fact is that year after year Shell has promised to extinguish the flares, and  has so far not made good on these promises. We call on Shell to keep its promise this time. Furthermore, it is the intention that all 110 flares be extinguished as quickly as possible; just under a quarter of these is only the beginning. Our campaign will continue until the last flare has been put out.’


The response by Nnimmo Bassey, director of Friends of the Earth Nigeria / ERA and Chair of Friends of the Earth International was equally cautious:


"The release by Shell certainly is a mark of success for our collective campaigns. But I can say that it is a little step coming quite late in the day. They have not given a date as to when they will switch off the flares, meaning they can keep working and keep flaring for who knows how long!"


For years, Milieudefensie and ERA have been jointly carrying out a campaign against Shell’s damaging practices in Nigeria. Increasing numbers of other international environmental and human rights organisations, as well as Shell's own shareholders, are also calling on Shell to stop this practice. During the company’s annual shareholder meeting on May 18 2010, shareholders and institutional investors also expressed their desire to see Shell improve its operational management in Nigeria.


The unnecessary flaring of gas by Shell in Nigeria emits an amount of greenhouse gases every day which is equal to half the CO2 emitted by all Dutch passenger cars. This means that Shell is making a significant contribution to the global climate problem. Residents of the Niger Delta also suffer daily from toxic emissions by the gas flares, which cause health problems and damage crops.

Mar 31, 2010

European Commission draft document paves way for oil from tar sands in europe

by PhilLee — last modified Mar 31, 2010 10:55 AM

A new initiative allowing citizens across Europe to express concerns over oil industry investment in tar sands was launched on March 29, 2010 amid warnings that the European Commission is set to sabotage its own efforts to limit the climate change impacts of the fossil fuel industry.

tar sands handDrafts of the Fuel Quality Directive implementation plan [1] – the EU initiative aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels - seen by Friends of the Earth Europe suggest that the plan will not help to decarbonise the fossil fuel sector, and will do nothing to restrict imports of oil from tar sands to Europe. Oil produced from tar sands produces up to five times more greenhouse gas emissions than conventional oil.

Friends of the Earth Europe together with other environment groups has written to climate action commissioner Connie Hedegaard urging her to address the weaknesses in the draft. [2]

Darek Urbaniak, extractive industries campaigner for Friends of the Earth Europe said:


"European oil companies are already significantly increasing their tar sands portfolios through investments in Congo, Jordan, Madagascar, Nigeria, Russia and other countries. The Fuel Quality Directive is supposed to benefit the climate but the latest proposal from the European Commission leaves the European market wide open for fuels produced from tar sands and undermines the whole purpose of the legislation. The EU should be leading the world in stopping tar sands."


Major oil companies have been pushing for the removal of greenhouse gas reduction targets for fossil fuels they produce in this legislation allowing them to continue to invest in the extraction of oil from tar sands.

Now they are coming under pressure from anti-tar sands campaigners and concerned investors who have succeeded in filing a resolution [3] to the forthcoming Annual General Meetings of BP plc and Royal Dutch Shell plc, calling on the companies to disclose the risks associated with their tar sands investments and their plans to address them.

From today European pension providers are also being targeted by the campaign and citizens across Europe have the opportunity to send a message to BP and Shell investors asking them to support the resolution on tar sands.

The resolutions are already supported by a number of major investors in the UK and the United States.

Duncan Exley, Director of Campaigns for FairPensions, said:


"The resolutions to BP and Shell were filed amid growing questions from investors, analysts and environmental groups about the financial, environmental and social implications of tar sands. We are calling on people to use the power of their pension or savings to force a review of this damaging and risky activity."

Tar sands – a naturally occurring mixture of sand or clay, water and an extremely dense and viscous form of petroleum called bitumen – cause more damage to the climate than conventional oil. The greenhouse gas emissions of converting tar sands into fuel is three to five times higher than for conventional oil. The pollution, deforestation and wildlife disturbance associated with tar sands developments also threaten the traditional livelihoods and wellbeing of indigenous communities.

Take action

Friends of the Earth Europe and FairPensions have collaborated on an action that will target Shell and BP shareholders directly.


You can express your concerns to your pension provider or if you don't have a pension you can email one of Shell and BP's largest shareholders.




[1] Fuel Quality Directive:

[2] Letter to Commissioner Hedegaard regarding Fuel Quality Directive

[3] More information on the resolutions and their supporters:

The shareholder resolutions are co-ordinated by London-based responsible investment charity FairPensions and were filed by a broad coalition of individual and institutional investors, foundations and faith groups. FairPensions is urging investors to vote in favour of the resolutions, and members of the public to petition their pension provider to do the same.

Jun 19, 2008

The People of Nigeria versus Shell

by UrskaMerc — last modified Jun 19, 2008 11:40 AM

For many years oil leakages have created vast environmental and heath problems in the Niger Delta in Nigeria. Oil companies such as Shell, amongst others, are responsible for this.

ikot ada udo - big - kadir

Destroyed land in Ikot Ada Udo. Photo: Kadir van Lohuizen/NOOR


Oil contamination in the Niger delta, Nigeria


goi - brian shaad

Burnt mangrove forest in Goi. Photo: Brian Shaad


Read more on oil spills in Nigeria  


allali-kadirAlali Efanga - GoiAlali Efanga from Oruma

I inherited the fisheries from my father. Due to the oil leakage I have lost my only means of income. We are now living hand to mouth. I sometimes go off into the jungle or find an odd job at a company for 500 Naira (three euro) per day."

Foto: Kadir van Lohuizen/Noor

Nigerians file a lawsuit against Shell

oruma - brian shaad

Polluted land in Oruma. Foto: Brian Shaad

Four Nigerians and Friends of the Earth Netherlands/Nigeria are holding Shell headquarters in the Netherlands liable for the massive damage of three oil spills in the Niger Delta. On the 9th of May 2008 Shell was urged to clarify its role in the spills within three weeks and present 70 documents. The company asked for and was admitted a delay of three weeks. After this delay and some holidays, the plaintiffs will take a definite decision on whether to start the court case.

Read more on:
Ikot Ada Udo
The plaintiffs, lawyer and Friends of the Earth Nigeria/ the Netherlands
Activities Milieudefensie on Shell in Nigeria since 2005
Watch the film

chief barizaa - kadir

Chief Barizaa Dooh from Goi

My whole land: my fisheries, my canoes, my vegetable gardens and the orchards, which I had planted, have all been destroyed by the oil leakage through fire. I have nothing left. I hoop that the judge in the Netherlands can obligate Shell to do the right thing. That is my hope.


Foto: Kadier van Lohuizen/Noor


ikot ada udo - kadir

Oil installation in Ikot Ada Udo. Photo: Kadir van Lohuizen/NOOR

Rules for companies are necessary

Mileudefensie finds that the Dutch government should impose for binding rules in the European Union for companies, which operate internationally. Make it less difficult for victims, such as the villagers in the Nigerdelta, to come up for their rights in the European union if companies don’t abide the rules.

Read more on binding regulations

friday alfred akpan - Ikot ada udoFriday Alfred Akpan - Ikot Ada UdoFriday Akpan from Ikot Ada Udo

Shell always come to stop the leakage’s. They then leave without cleaning up the pollution/contamination, recuperating the area or financially compensating the damages done. The residents of Ikot Ada Udo are angry, very angry.

Foto: Kadir van Lohuizen/Noor

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