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The Dutch NCP finds that Shell bases statements on oil spills on flawed investigation

Jun 19, 2013

The Dutch NCP issued a final statement in the OECD Guidelines complaint against Shells in which it finds that Shell’s statements on the oil spills were based on flawed investigations and disputed evidence. The NCP furthermore found that Shell’s general communication with stakeholders about the percentage of oil spills caused by sabotage was flawed. Complainants nevertheless regret that the NCP did not comment on whether Shell’s failures constituted a breach of the Guidelines nor made a full assessment of the evidence provided or an investigation whether Shell’s statements were indeed misleading.

In January 2011 Amnesty International And Friends of the Earth Netherlands filed an OECD Guidelines complaint alleging that Royal Dutch Shell has breached the OECD Guidelines by making false, misleading and incomplete statements about incidents of sabotage to its operations and the sources of pollution in the Niger Delta. Specifically, the complainants are concerned by Shell’s repeated misleading claims about the high proportion of oil spills in the Niger Delta that are due to sabotage committed by criminal gangs.

Although Shell headquarters initially tried to distance itself from the Nigerian operations and referred the NCP to the local subsidiary, the NCP insisted that the parent company must take responsibility and exert its influence over subsidiaries to ensure that they are abiding by the Guidelines. Shell headquarters eventually agreed to take part in the mediation that eventually did not lead to an agreement between the parties.

One of the main stumbling blocks in the negotiations was Shell’s demand that the complainant's would guarantee that they would not publicly disclose information related to the pre-2011 oil spills that were to be discussed. This unacceptable demand for the complainants proved insurmountable for the dialogue. Throughout the process, the complainants repeatedly expressed serious concern that the Dutch NCP allowed Shell to dictate the parameters for the dialogue, which effectively left unaddressed all past harm done to the people of the Niger Delta as a result of Shell’s flawed statements.



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