THE HAGUE (NETHERLANDS), 25 January 2011 – Oil giant Shell will again be under scrutiny for the environmental and social impacts of its Nigerian operations. Tomorrow, the Dutch parliament will hold a hearing on Shell’s activities in Nigeria. Today, Milieudefensie (Friends of the Earth Netherlands) and Friends of the Earth International have with Amnesty International filed a joint complaint [1] with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) for Shell’s unjust claims that almost all oil leaks in the Niger Delta are due to sabotage.

During the public hearing, that will be held tomorrow in The Hague, Shell will be questioned by Dutch members of parliament about oil pollution and gas flaring. The parliamentarians will also hear from scientists and other experts, such as Friends of the Earth Netherlands.

Geert Ritsema will speak on behalf of Friends of the Earth Netherlands/International. He said: “The pressure on Shell to clean up its mess in Nigeria is increasing by the day. Last year, the company was removed from the Dow Jones Sustainability Index due to pollution in the Niger Delta, and recently Wikileaks showed that Shell uses political influence in Nigeria to manipulate the situation in the country. We call on Dutch politicians to make a point of Shell’s responsibility for the problems the company causes in Nigeria.”

The complaint filed with the Dutch National Contact Point to the OECD today is regarding the non-transparent, inconsistent and misleading figures that Shell has distributed on the causes of oil leaks in Nigeria. The complaint explains how Shell often unjustly claims that the leaks result from sabotage and that Shell is using random figures without any independent verification

Nnimmo Bassey, director of Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA) and chair of Friends of the Earth International said: “We monitor spills regularly and our observations often contradict information produced by Shell. Several studies have placed the bulk of the blame for oil spills in the Niger Delta on the doorsteps of the oil companies; particularly Shell. It should take its responsibility and clean up the mess it made in our country. Moreover Shell should stop gas flaring in the Niger Delta. That is one act they cannot blame local communities for.”

Shell has been operating in the West African country of Nigeria for more than half a century and Friends of the Earth International, ERA and Milieudefensie have been protesting against the oil concern’s policy for decades. They want Shell to clean the hundreds of oil leaks it causes each year and to stop flaring gas, which has been prohibited by Nigerian law since 1984. The associated gas now simply burned off emits poisonous gasses and CO2, whereas it could be put to good use, such as to generate electricity.

[1] The complaint can be downloaded here: OECD submission



Friends of the Earth Netherlands press office: +31 (0) 20-5507333,

Friends of the Earth International: + 31 (0) 20-6221369,