Norway’s Oil Fund Invited to the Niger Delta to witness the first-hand impact of Shell’s Operations

Norway’s Oil Fund Invited to the Niger Delta to witness the first-hand impact of Shell’s Operations

We at ANEEJ (Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice) have been working to hold fossil fuel companies accountable for the damages that have been caused in the Niger Delta. Following a 2012 complaint by us and others, Norway’s Oil Fund (managed by Norges Bank Investment Management – NBIM) is a top 3 shareholder in Shell and says it has been engaging Shell to help tackle these issues. 

In May earlier this year we and 30 other Nigerian civil society groups wrote an open letter to the Fund’s boss Nicolai Tangen to say that we feel that he and his colleagues are in danger of being misled by Shell and to invite NBIM staff to come to the Niger Delta to see the polluted land and hear from people in affected communities.However, we are yet to receive a response.

In its 2022 Responsible Investment Report issued this February, Norway’s Oil Fund presented its 10-year dialogue with Shell about the Niger Delta as a success story. It stated that:

“Shell PLC and its partners in Nigeria have implemented various measures, including maintenance, better protection of wellheads and closer collaboration with local communities. The clean-up of affected areas is progressing, and the backlog has been significantly reduced. The company is working with the Nigerian authorities to clean up legacy pollution in Ogoniland and is continuing to pay its share of the clean-up costs.” 

When we and other groups on the ground in Nigeria saw this, we were shocked. This is absolutely not the reality observed by people living in the Niger Delta, or by reports such as the Independent Monitoring of the Ogoniland Clean-up or a recent investigation by the Nigerian Tribune and many other reports that have highlighted the impact of shell activities.

In May we and 30 other Nigerian groups and networks from the People’s AGM – representing a range of faiths, indigenous groups, women and youth – made an urgent appeal to Norway’s Oil Fund in which we: 

  • Encourage the Council on Ethics “to recommend full divestment and exclusion of all holdings of the Norway Government Pension Fund in Royal Dutch Shell, Plc. and its subsidiaries.”
  • The Fund to “re-direct significant investment to support the development of new technology that will advance a just transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources.”
  • Call on Mr Tangen and his colleagues “to respond urgently to undertake a fact-finding mission to the Niger Delta in collaboration with civil society organisations, to ascertain the true state of affairs.”
  • To follow the example of the Church of England and to “vote against Shell’s Chair and Directors and the transition plan update during the company’s 2023 annual general meeting.”

Read the letter here

As we await a response from our open letter published months ago, we hope that Norway’s Oil Fund is prepared to send people to the Niger Delta, and then to acknowledge that their engagement has not made significant changes to Shell’s approach. So far, the Fund is far from its ambition to become the world’s ‘‘leading fund in responsible investments”.