On 29 January 2018, the Obelle Concern Citizens in Nigeria filed a complaint with the Dutch NCP alleging that Shell Petroleum and Development Company (SPDC)’s breached the Guidelines in their operations of oil wells and its adverse impacts to people to Obelle, Nigeria, located in Rivers State Niger Delta.
The complainants state that impacts to their health and human rights began in in February 1998 there was an eruption at well 4 in Obelle, which caused a gas fire and SPDC added chemicals to the community’s aquifer in order to control the fire. Since then, SPDC has continued to cause impacts due to the non-stop gas flaring and occasional oil spills that are impacting the people’s land, natural resources and livelihoods. They also state that SPDC has never provided job opportunities for the indigenous people of Obelle.
They are asking the Dutch NCP for their assistance in resolving the issue, by seeking SPDC and Shell to carry out the following requests, amongst others:
- Commit to hiring indigenous people from Obelle
- To accept their recommended community liaison offers to the company
- To make public an EIA report that was conducted for the 1998 gas-fire eruption and its recommended mitigation measures
- To compensate the Obelle people who have been impacted by SPDC’s operations
Relevant OECD Guidelines
On 17 July 2018 the NCP urged the parties to process the complaint through SPDC’s Community Feedback Mechanism (CFM), in place since 2012. In November 2018 a dialogue was initiated under the CFM, but no agreement on the outstanding issues was reached. Therefore in May 2019 the NCP resumed the specific instance.
On 4 June 2019 the NCP shared a draft Initial Assessment with the parties offering its good ofices to help the parties resolve the dispute. OCC accepted the good offices, but Shell rejected them. The NCP therefore decided to close the procedure with a Final Statement.
The NCP issued its Final Statement on 27 February 2020. The Final Statement notes that “SPDC has failed to demonstrate that its grievance mechanism functions in a manner that can be considered to be consistent with the OECD Guidelines and the UNGPs.” The NCP issued several recommendations to Shell in order to bring its activities into line with the OECD Guidelines, and committed to following up on the case within one year to determine whether its recommendations have been complied with.