Shell: Why We Halted Onshore Divestment

* Seeks to grow deepwater, gas resources in stable, competitive environment

Ejiofor Alike

One of Nigeria’s leading energy giants, Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited (SPDC) has disclosed that the Shell Group would not go ahead with the divestment of its interest in SPDC until the outcome of outstanding litigation against the exercise.

The Head of Corporate Relations at Shell Companies in Nigeria, Mr. Igo Weli, told THISDAY yesterday that as a law-abiding corporate citizen, Shell’s local subsidiary, SPDC, would also not take any action in respect of the review of the company’s portfolio.

Weli, who debunked insinuations that the company wanted to exit Nigeria, stressed that the company only aimed to continue to grow its deepwater and gas positions under a stable and competitive investment climate.

Weli added that the company would always conduct its businesses and operations in accordance with the laws, including any court orders.

“We respect the Nigerian judiciary and recognise its role in upholding the rule of law, hence, as a firm believer in the rule of law and due process, our actions will always be guided by the law,” he said.

Asked to comment on the ongoing spill litigation that led to the court order stopping any planned asset sale by Shell in Nigeria, Weli said: “We have a strong belief in the merits of our case, which we are vigorously defending. We have no further comments at this stage other than to say that SPDC is complying with the Supreme Court’s order to maintain the status quo.”

The appeal before the Supreme Court comes up on October 4, 2022. In the underlying suit, Isaac Torchi and 84 other claimants obtained an N800 billion judgment from a state High Court against SPDC, its joint venture partners and the Shell International over alleged damages suffered from two oil spills which purportedly occurred on February 1, 2018, and September 18, 2019 at SPDC JV’s facility in Nkpogu and Bomu in Rivers State. SPDC JV is contending that it does not believe the said spills ever occurred and is vigorously defending that position.

On the reported plan by Shell to exit Nigeria, Weli said contrary to the claim, Nigeria remained an important heartland for Shell.

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