||FOR BUSINESS NEWS REPORTS STRESSING THE ISSUE OF SHELL'S PROFITS, SEE BELOW.
NIGERIA IS MOSTLY ABSENT EXCEPT AS A SITE OF EXTRACTION; NIGERIANS ARE RARELY DISCUSSED UNLESS (AS IN THE REFERENCE TO THE IJAWS BELOW) THEY ARE PORTRAYED AS A SOURCE OF VIOLENCE.
WHERE DIFFICULTIES ARE ADMITTED, THE EMPHASIS IS ON HOW MUCH SHELL IS NOW DOING, HOW THEY ARE PRESSING FOR CHANGE AND 'BREAKTHROUGHS' ARE IMMANENT.
THE CUTTING EDGE: "PEOPLE ARE GOING TO HAVE TO BELIEVE IN SHELL'S RESTRUCTURING STORY."
Copyright 2000 The Financial Times Limited
Financial Times (London)
January 17, 2000, Monday London Edition 1
SECTION: FRONT PAGE - FIRST SECTION; Pg. 1
LENGTH: 369 words
HEADLINE: FRONT PAGE - FIRST SECTION: Shell close to healing Nigerian rift
BYLINE: By ROBERT CORZINE
Royal Dutch/Shell appears to be on the verge of the first "significant breakthrough" in its estranged relations with the Ogoni tribe in Nigeria since the execution in 1995 of Ken Saro-Wiwa and other Ogoni rights activists by the then military government.
More than four years after the Anglo-Dutch oil company was subjected to international criticism for failing to intervene more forcefully to halt the execution of Mr Saro-Wiwa, the company says "real reconciliation (with the Ogonis) may not be far away".
A breakthrough in relations would be largely symbolic, given that Ogoniland accounted for just 30,000 of the 700,000 barrels a day produced by Shell in the Niger Delta. But it would be one of the few positive developments in the region, where Shell is grappling with a rising tide of violence and production disruption caused mainly by disaffected militant youths.
Shell is the biggest single oil producer in Nigeria and plays a leading role in the country's economy. It plans to spend billions of dollars in Nigeria in the next few years on new oil and natural gas projects.
Company officials say a series of meetings has been held with Ogoni representatives. Shell described the talks - brokered by church and civic leaders in Nigeria - as constructive and said they could lead to a "breakthrough in the months ahead".
The Ogoni issue has been a sore point at Shell since 1993, when it was forced to abandon operations in Ogoniland after widespread community disturbances and protests against the company and its environmental record in the area.
The Ogonis were among the first of the more than 20 ethnic minorities that populate the impoverished but oil-rich Niger Delta to protest against the inequalities in the way oil revenues are distributed in Nigeria. In the early 1990s, Ogoni activists also demanded billions of dollars in compensation and royalties from Shell, which has operated in the area since the 1960s.
Ogoni activists also accused the company of colluding with the military regime of the late General Sani Abacha in the "genocide" of the Ogoni people.
The unrest that started in Ogoniland in the early 1990s has since spread to much of the rest of the Delta.
[FOR RESPONSE, SEE LETTER TO RIGHT]
Copyright 1999 The Times-Picayune Publishing Co.
August 6, 1999 Friday, ORLEANS
SECTION: MONEY; Pg. C1
LENGTH: 620 words
HEADLINE: SHELL TOPS ANALYSTS' EXPECTATIONS
BYLINE: Bloomberg News
The Royal Dutch/Shell Group, Europe's largest oil company, posted a better-than-expected 4.7 percent rise in second-quarter profit as lower costs and rising income from pumping oil and making chemicals offset smaller profit margins from selling fuels.
Shell profit from operations rose to $1.61 billion from $1.54 billion a year earlier, confounding analysts' expectations for a decline. The results also outpaced those from its top five U.S. rivals, whose quarterly earnings fell 18 percent on average.
Royal Dutch shares rose 2 3/16 on the New York Stock Exchange on confidence that Chairman Mark Moody-Stuart's plan to save $2.5 billion by 2001 was bearing fruit.
"The cost cutting is taking hold," said Peter Hitchens, an analyst at Williams de Broe in London with a "buy" rating on both shares. "People are going to have to boost their earnings estimates and start believing in Shell's restructuring story."
This was the second straight quarter of better-than-expected earnings following Shell's decision in December to write down $4.5 billion of assets and begin slashing costs. Shell curtailed $160 million of exploration expense in the first half, closed less-profitable refineries and started selling 40 percent of its chemicals assets.
In the U.S., the cutbacks have meant downsizing, asset sales and a slow-down in activity in the Gulf of Mexico and elsewhere. Shell's New Orleans office, the biggest oil company in town, has seen two rounds of layoffs and the sell-off of many of the company's oldest offshore properties. The company has cut nearly 700 jobs in Louisiana in less than a year.
"We have turned in robust results when the overall business environment is weak," Moody-Stuart said in a statement. Yet "there is still much we need to do to deliver cutting-edge performance."
The bulk of the turnaround at Shell came from its oil exploration and production division, where profit rose 62 percent to $819 million.
Average prices for Brent crude oil, a benchmark blend, during the quarter rose 16 percent to $15.45 a barrel from $13.30 a year ago, Shell said.
Rising oil prices and lower costs overcame a 6 percent decline in Shell's average oil production, half of which is attributable to sales of aging oil fields in Colombia and Yemen. Shell also said its output was held back in Nigeria by civil disturbances and in Australia by routine maintenance.
The Reuter European Business Report
HEADLINE: ROYAL DUTCH/ SHELL PROFITS SURGE IN 1994
BYLINE: By Paul Farrelly
DATELINE: LONDON, Feb 23 1995
Anglo-Dutch oil group the Royal Dutch/ Shell Group on Thursday said 1994 net income on a current cost basis surged 24 percent to nearly four billion pounds ($ 6.3 billion), fuelled by a turnaround in its chemicals business.
Net income was 3.995 billion pounds ($ 6.3 billion), up from 3.227 billion ($ 5.1 billion) in 1993.
||OTHER POINTS OF VIEW (NOT DRAWN FROM SHELL'S WEBSITE):
The Financial Times Limited
Financial Times (London)
January 19, 2000, Wednesday London Edition 1
SECTION: LETTERS TO THE EDITOR; Pg. 20
LENGTH: 265 words
HEADLINE: LETTERS TO THE EDITOR: Ogoni people do not share Shell's optimism on Nigeria
BYLINE: By LEDUM MITEE
From Mr Ledum Mitee.
Sir, Your article regarding the operations of Shell in Ogoni, Nigeria quoted London officials of the company expressing satisfaction and considerable optimism about recent discussions ("Royal Dutch/Shell close to healing costly rift on Nigerian tribal rights", January 17). [SEE ARTICLE TO LEFT.]
Their optimism is not shared by Mosop (Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People), which has championed the Ogoni cause against the company. We have publicly expressed grave concerns about the difference between Shell's statements in London and the actions of its staff in Ogoni and other parts of the Niger Delta.
It is inconceivable that Shell will achieve a breakthrough of the type implied in your article, given the high cost the Ogoni people have paid for our opposition to Shell's damaging practices in Nigeria. We are still looking for evidence that Shell accepts responsibility for its actions in Ogoni and is prepared to take the necessary remedial steps. We have also indicated support for an independent assessment of the environmental and social situation in Ogoni as recommended by the UN. Shell needs to take practical and concrete steps to build up the confidence of the people.
We hope that Shell understands it has a great deal of work to do to achieve "a significant breakthrough", and that the situation in the Niger Delta is deteriorating, with oil companies often failing to appreciate their contributions to existing problems.
Ledum Mitee, President, Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People, 27 Odu Street, Ogbunabali, Port Harcourt, Nigeria
Copyright 2000 St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Inc.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
January 7, 2000, Friday, FIVE STAR LIFT EDITION
SECTION: METRO, Pg. B2
LENGTH: 428 words
HEADLINE: REFUGEES PLAN TO PROTEST AT SHELL SERVICE STATION HERE; NIGERIANS BLAME COMPANY FOR POLLUTION IN HOMELAND, DEALING WITH DICTATORS
BYLINE: Tim O'Neil; Of The Post-Dispatch
Refugees from a region of Nigeria plan to picket a Shell service station in Richmond Heights on Saturday in a weeklong effort to draw attention to troubles in their faraway homeland.
The refugees are from Ogoni Land, an area inhabited by about 500,000 people in the wide delta country of the Niger River. About 100 Ogonis have moved to the St. Louis area since 1996, said Noble Obani-Nwibari, their spokesman.
Obani-Nwibari said refugees and their supporters often picket Shell stations because Shell International produced oil in their homeland until 1993 and wants to resume production there. He said anti-Shell Ogonis blame the company for polluting their land and doing business with Nigeria's succession of dictators.
Obani-Nwibari said Ogoni refugees throughout the world have been holding protests this week. Nigeria is in West Africa.
On Tuesday, a day of celebration for the Ogonis, about 400 people took part in a nighttime candlelight march from the Shell station at Gravois Avenue and South Grand Boulevard in St. Louis to a rally in a church, Obani-Nwibari said. He said most of the St. Louis-area
Ogonis attended and were joined by refugees from Kenya and Ethiopia and local environmental groups, including the Sierra Club.
Obani-Nwibari said the group will meet again at noon Saturday and picket the Shell station at 1402 South Hanley Road, just south of
Highway 40 (Interstate 64). They plan to end the picketing at 2 p.m. "We want to educate people about what Shell is doing to our country," he said.
Harry Dunn, the Shell station owner, could not be reached for comment.
Some Ogonis in Nigeria sabotaged Shell operations there before the company stopped production in Ogoni Land in 1993, and the nation's dictators have taken action against the residents. In 1995, the government of the late Gen. Sani Abacha hanged playwright Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight other Ogoni activists.
The government of Olusegun Obasanjo, who in May became Nigeria's first elected president in 15 years, also has clashed with protesters in the Niger delta.
Obani-Nwibari, 44, arrived in St. Louis from Nigeria in 1996. He said most of the Ogonis in St. Louis live near Gravois and South Grand.
Shell's international Internet site says the company has protested to the Nigerian government over human rights abuses. It also says the company has no control over how the Nigerian government oil agency distributes royalty payments.
February 21, 1999, Sunday
SECTION: Pg. 21
LENGTH: 1366 words
HEADLINE: Focus - Delta Blues: Nigeria's poor prepare to fight for the oil
riches of their country The Niger Delta is the world's sixth largest oil
field, yet the people there live in abject poverty. Now the tribes of the
Delta are in a state of near revolt: Western oil workers have been
kidnapped, pipelines sabotaged. Christina Lamb reports from Port Harcourt
BYLINE: By Christina Lamb
CHIEF Ogibo Otodjareri is holding court in a wattle-and-daub hut decorated with goat skulls on strings and faded black-and-white photographs of his ancestors. He still remembers when oil was first struck in West Africa in 1956. "We thought we would be rich," he smiled sadly, recalling the excitement that spread through the tangled jungles of the Niger Delta where it was discovered.
Instead, like most of the region, his village of 5,000 people still has no electricity or running water, no clinic, no school. The bandy-legged children who gather to see the oyibo, or strange white woman, have the swollen bellies of the malnourished.
Pointing out the nearby oil pipeline, Otodjareri says: "We can't understand why our area is producing all this wealth yet when you come to my house I cannot even offer you a cup of porridge."
The Niger Delta is the world's sixth-largest oil producer, pumping out two billion barrels per day, yet most of its 108 million people are growing poorer. In Arab countries which produce this much oil, people have living standards beyond most Nigerians' wildest dreams. But in Africa's largest country, billions of pounds in oil wealth are siphoned off by a small clique of generals and politicians, while the average income has plummeted to pounds 160 per year. So skewed is the system that motorists must queue two days to get petrol.
In the Delta region where more than 90 per cent of the oil comes from, people live in some of the worst poverty in sub-Saharan Africa and they are losing patience. Much of the Delta is in a state of near-insurrection, with groups of militant youths turning off oil valves, occupying flow stations and kidnapping foreign oil workers. Yesterday a Chevron boat was attacked and one person killed. The next step, says Oronto Douglas, one of the groups' leaders, is to bring the entire oil industry to a halt.
The government has responded with violence, sending in security forces and turning one of the world's largest wetlands into a battleground.
Few expect the current elections - yesterday for parliament, and next Saturday for the presidency - to change anything, despite ending 15 years of military rule. The candidate expected to win is Gen Olusegun Obasanjo, a former military dictator, although the only one ever to hand over power to civilians.
"The real problem is the mineral resources are in minority areas, while the government is always run by a majority tribe who don't find it worthwhile to divert funds to develop those areas," said Robert Azibaola, the president of the Niger Delta Human and Environmental Resources Organisation.
The plight of the Delta first came to world attention in 1993 when the playwright Ken Saro-Wiwa led the Ogoni tribe against the military regime of Gen Sani Abacha, to force the British-Dutch oil giant Shell out of its region. Thousands of Ogonis were beaten or detained and there was an international outcry when Saro-Wiwa and eight colleagues were hanged in November 1995.
Since Abacha's death last June the new president, Gen Abdulsalam Abubakar, reduced repression in Nigeria, freeing political prisoners, and many tribes have been emboldened to follow the Ogonis' example.
A British employee of Shell and his two-year-old son were kidnapped last week, although they were released within days, and oilworkers travel in convoys with armed guards.
A report due out this week by Human Rights Watch catalogues numerous cases of people being "brutalised" by Nigerian security forces for attempting to raise grievances with the oil companies. The largest is Shell, responsible for almost half the country's oil production, followed by the American companies Chevron and Mobil, Elf of France, and the Italian state-owned Agip.
Most of the protesters are Ijaws, the largest tribe in the Delta with more than six million people, presenting a far more serious threat to the regime than the Ogonis, who number fewer than 500,000. Armed mystical cults of the Ijaw god of war, Egbesu, have sprung up, hiding in the mangrove swamps which cover a third of the Delta.
Last month there was a series of killings in the riverside village of Kaiama after troops moved in to end a demonstration calling for foreign oil companies to leave. A week-long gun battle raged, leaving more than 30 people dead. Owonaro Kesiegha, the 26-year-old Youth president, gave a warning: "We are not afraid. We are angry."
Travelling in the Delta last week I passed checkpoints every couple of miles manned by soldiers brandishing machine-guns, looking for youths whose backs bear the tattoos of the Egbesu cults. Soldiers have spread terror by looting houses and demanding money to let people pass.
The Ijaw have threatened to bring the oil industry to a halt. This month, leaders of all the Delta tribes gathered for the first time and issued a declaration demanding autonomy and a share of oil royalties.
With disruptions flaring up every week, Shell's production has been cut from 450,000 to 250,000 barrels per day, and a senior executive said: "Many of our operations have been closed down and our staff are exposed." Troops are already digging trenches in the jungle and Western diplomats predict a full-scale guerrilla war.
The foreign oil companies feel unfairly targeted. Since the Ogoni crisis, Shell has conducted a major review and is building hospitals and schools, paying for more than 100 teachers in the Delta. It says the real blame lies with the state, which receives the royalties and is supposed to distribute a percentage to local people.
The anger of the Ijaw people is tangible, it hangs heavy in the already humid air the Delta. At the village of Otuegwe, which is only accessible by boat, a strange gloom hangs over the community. Ijaw youths led the way through the forest --- where spiders are as big as dinner plates and everything seems to grow to 10 times the normal size. Suddenly the birds stopped singing. Emerging from a swamp, the primeval odour of the jungle was replaced by a nausea-inducing smell of hydrocarbons, and we entered a place that looked like Armageddon.
A pipeline had burst, spreading black oil over the vegetation and casting a thick film over the pools of water. When it rains, as it does every day, this runs into the creek and pollutes the water used by the villagers in addition to killing the mudfish which they eat. Many of the palms, on which they depend to produce palm oil and alcohol, lay brown and dying.
Although this happened last October, nobody from Shell has visited the village to clean up or apologise, let alone offer compensation. Scooping up some crude to take home for fuel, Igonibo Ido said: "We want the world to know our plight."
The oil companies admit that many pipelines are older than the 15-year safe lifespan, but blame the government (which has a 55 per cent stake in Shell's operations and 60 per cent in the others) for not putting up its share of investment. Hundreds of pipeline leaks occur each year, although Shell claims that many result from sabotage.
Last October, word went around the community of Jesse that a pipeline had burst. Thousands of villagers rushed to the leak to collect oil. Among them was Eunice Akamugbe, a 30-year-old mother of two. "We were all filling buckets when suddenly there was a huge explosion."
When Eunice came to, she was covered in horrific burns. She was one of the lucky ones. More than 1,000 people died in the blaze. In November, General Abubakar said there would be no compensation, as sabotage was suspected.
The current low price of oil, and the rash of demands which democracy is likely to bring, will make it hard for a new government to meet the needs of the Delta region. Oil earnings, which make up 80 per cent of government revenue, are projected at pounds 4.8 billion for this year, far short of 1997's pounds 9.3 billion.
Some campaigners fear that the Delta people's fight will provide an excuse for the military to retake power. But Fawehinmi Gani, a leading campaigner for democracy, warned: "You can send in 50 million troops but you cannot cow the people. They have been cheated for so long that they are fighting the battle of their lives."
Copyright 1999 Guardian Newspapers Limited
The Guardian (London)
September 13, 1999
SECTION: Guardian Leader Pages; Pg. 16
LENGTH: 637 words
BYLINE: John Vidal @ Ogoniland
The six kingdoms of Ogoniland deep in the Niger delta had seen nothing like it. The 100 splendid grey-haired, bowler-hatted traditional
chiefs, the spirit dancers, the choirs, the acrobats, wrestlers, drummers, bishops and several thousand onlookers were cracking up.
On a platform in the centre of a large tented square, four middle-aged whites were being stripped of their clothes and made 'first-class'
Ogoni chieftains. The embroidered gowns looked fine. The carved sticks, chains and feathers lent authority. But the multicoloured knitted
socks with tassles on the ends which were pulled over the heads of the new chiefs made them look like giant Smurfs. The crowd shrieked
and doubled up.
Henceforth, announded the MC, Anita Roddick, co-founder of the Body Shop and no lover of British titles, was to be 'Her Royal
Highness Mene Missus Roddick, Chief Wiper Away of Ogoni Tears.' Husband Gordon and two other Bodyshop executives would be
Ogoni ambasadors and 'Chief Helpers'.
'Bene Ogoni, great, great Ogoni,' cried their Highnesses Peter, Gavin, Gordon and Anita over the uproar. 'Ka'alene Bari,' ('glory be to
God') the crowd roared back as the 100 chiefs exited backwards in deference to their new peers.
The Ogoni do not forget their friends. When Ken Saro-Wiwa founded the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (Mosop) in
1992, no one in the international community wanted to help the struggle to expel Shell from Ogoni lands or hear of the pollution and
destitution. The military came in, thousands died, the human rights abuses were terrifying and the pollution from oil spills and gas flares
was atrocious. The lowest point came in 1996 when Saro-Wiwa and eight others were hanged.
Body Shop declared corporate war on Shell and poured resources into the campaign to draw the world's attention. Thanks in part to it
and its supporters, 20 Ogoni prisoners were released, the Commonwealth expelled Nigeria and Shell was forced, in theory, to change its
ways. 'It was the first struggle of this kind in the black world,' said the MC. 'You were friends in time of exile and desolation. You did not
For a week now the Ogonis have been celebrating, in churches, palaces and storm-lashed fields, the Roddicks' first visit. They have, too,
rained down gifts. Between libations of gin and rousing renditions of the Ogoni anthem, the Roddicks have acquired 40 acres of land, a
goat, carvings, coconuts, plaques, robes, hats and pots. So far, two Ogoni children have been named after them, but soon there could be a
tribe: all children born to the Ogoni 20 will be little Gordons, Anitas, Peters or Gavins.
But below the gaiety, there is deep concern. Shell and the military have left, Mosop is a fully fledged grassroots liberation movement with
its own flag, heroes, martyrs and radical politics, but the 500,000 Ogoni are devastated by generations of neglect and denial. Despite
promises, there has been next to no compensation, reparation, clean-up or development.
It rankles deeply with all the minority groups in the vast Niger delta region that tens of billions of dollars' worth of oil has been extracted
but almost nothing has been returned. Most British have more in their medicine chests than the Ogoni or Idjaw have in their hospitals;
most British nine-year-olds have more books than Ogoni schools have for thousands of pupils. 'It would have been better if oil had never
come,' says a Mosop leader.
The Ogoni have high hopes - perhaps too high - that Bodyshop will change everything. The company will mobilise its staff and the public
and set up community projects and other development works.