CCR/Earth Rights International
Judith Chomsky, cooperating attorney with the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) and of the attorneys who initiated the lawsuit, stated, "The fortitude shown by our clients in the 13-year struggle to hold Shell accountable has helped establish a principle that goes beyond Shell and Nigeria-that corporations, no matter how powerful, will be held to universal human rights standards." June 2009.
A large body of evidence suggests that rich oil resources obstruct democracy and equitable economic growth in developing countries because of a lack of transparency, and therefore accountability, in oil revenues paid by oil companies to governments.
The human rights implications of the activities of transnational corporations (TNCs) and other business enterprises in conflict zones, “failed states” and repressive regimes have drawn increased public attention, concern and scrutiny in recent years.
The increase in oil exploration in Africa by multinational oil companies has raised the profile of the debate, questioning the oil industry's contribution to development in the South.
In some countries of Latin America there is a long history of opposition to oil exploitation, because of its serious environmental and social impacts and human rights violations.
World Bank fossil fuel finance
Academic studies, personal testimonies, and governmental data were submitted to the EIR (The Extractive Industries Review), that establish a clear correlation between a country’s reliance on oil exports and its levels of poverty, child mortality, child malnutrition, civil war, corruption, and totalitarianism.
Bank staff was unable to provide a single example during the EIR of an oil project that had alleviated poverty. Outside of the Middle East there are no examples of successful oil-based economic devel-opment, and even those countries exhibit many of the other characteristics of oil export dependency (e.g. autocracy, human rights violations). From "The winners an losers of World Bank fossil fuel finance", data analysis by Jim Vallette & Steve Kretzmann, April 2004See pdf.
However, in a Board meeting at August 3, 2004, World Bank Management and its Board failed to respond with concrete commitments to change the way the Bank operates and ensure poverty reduction results from its investments.
"The World Bank has ignored the EIR recommendations and endorsed business as usual", said Jon Sohn of Friends of the Earth US. "The EIR called for an 'extreme energy makeover,' and the World Bank opted for a cheap pedicure. It has missed a historic opportunity to bring its lending more in line with its mission to alleviate poverty."
The World Bank refers to the Chad-Cameroon Oil Pipeline as a model for poverty alleviation, although it is quickly becoming a model for misery. The Chadian government spent a portion of the first proceeds on military expenditures, worker's rights have been violated, people lost their livelihoods as a result of pollution, and impact mitigation plans lack proper implementation.
“Oil projects like the Chad-Cameroon pipeline generate more tears than smiles. The Bank's response to the EIR means they have not learned a single lesson from such tragedies”, added Mr Nguiffo. From Friends of the Earth. See.
If the US does move to intervene militarily, it's because Liberia sits near substantial oil reserves in the Gulf of Guinea. US oil companies -including Exxon-Mobil and Chevron-Texaco- are expected to invest more than $10 billion in African oil this year.
In the light of an expanding oil industry in Africa -centred on the oil rich Atlantic coast- this report by Catholic Relief Services assesses the opportunities and disadvantages the exploitation of such oil resources will bring to the poor. The two central questions addressed are: how can Africa’s oil boom contribute to alleviating poverty and what policy changes should be implemented to promote the management and allocation of oil revenues in a way that will benefit ordinary Africans? (Pdf format)
This report argues that for many developing countries, oil reserves are more likely to prove a curse than a blessing. The authors look particularly at the experience of Angola, Sudan and Kazakhstan (pdf format).
A new sense of urgency has emerged in public dialogue and debate about regulation by states of extraterritorial corporate conduct and the role of corporate self-regulation in addressing fundamental human rights concerns.The report shows there is little prospect of local regulation by the Government of Sudan of the activities of foreign oil companies (pdf format).
Ituri in North-Eastern Congo, already home to some of the worst massacres and horrors in the Congo crisis, is in process of becoming a new battlefield for regional and international interests (pdf format).
Chad has a population of around eight million, with 80 percent living below the poverty line of one US dollar a day. The Chad-Cameroon pipeline project involves ExxonMobil, Chevron, Petronas (the Malaysian state oil company), the World Bank and the governments of Chad and Cameroon.
For many years oil leakage's have caused/created vast environmental and heath problems/hazards in the Niger delta in Nigeria. Oil companies such as Shell, amongst others, are responsible for this. June 2008.
In January 2005 the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) in Sudan ended Africa’s longest civil war. But the peace is fragile and doesn’t encompass the entire country. Politically, the country remains divided and violence is still part of daily life in many areas, foremost in Darfur, but also in Kordofan. Deadly incidents continue to occur regularly in the South. Oil is a principal factor in Sudanese politics. It is the government’s main source of income and the oil sector is driving economic growth. Meanwhile, the oil industry is poorly managed and highly politicized. Rather than contributing to an environment of peace and equitable development, it remains a source of strife and division. April 2008 (pdf version).
Oil development has rapidly expanded since peace returned to southern Sudan, bringing huge rewards to the government. Sudan began exporting oil in August 1999, when production was 150,000 barrels per day. Now, production is about 500,000 barrels, expecting to rise to 1,000,000 barrels per day in two to three years. This year’s revenues from oil will exceed US$4 billion. Economic growth is expected to be about ten per cent. Clearly, the country is witnessing an economic boom fuelled by oil. The indigenous people of the oil areas, however, have languished in abject poverty. Oil companies have appropriated their lands without paying compensation, and have largely excluded them from employment opportunities. August 2007.
It has been a year since the horror of the bloodshed in Sudan’s Darfur region—with over 200,000 dead in three years—began leaking across the border into Chad. It has also been a year since a simmering conflict boiled over into a full-scale confrontation between World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz and Chadian President Idriss Deby. Are the two connected? In a word, yes. Here’s how. January 2007.
Nigeria is one of the world's major oil producers. Ogbia village, from which the country’s first oil well was struck, is where the bulk of Nigeria’s oil comes from but the area is sinking in poverty, armed violence and environmental disaster. January 2007.
Not even the World Bank and International Finance Corporation (IFC), which are supporting Shell in Nigeria, are paying any attention to the destruction that their investment could cause, nor are they prepared to address community concerns that increased oil and gas extraction activities will exacerbate impoverishment in the oil bearing areas and Nigeria in general. Friends of the Earth Nigeria's report ("The Shell report: continuing abuses in nigeria - 10 years after Ken Saro Wiwa", 2006) in commemoration of the 10th anniversary of the execution of the Ogoni patriots and other Choike information. April. 2006.
Africa is in the midst of another oil boom and continues to attract serious attention from the world’s major oil players, especially the United States which already relies on the continent for 15 percent of its daily consumption. This issue of Africa Files presents a series of articles on Africa's oil-boom and its dramatic development failures with special focus on the cases of Nigeria and Chad. February 2006.
Report on World Bank conditions for pipeline financing, changes proposed by Chadian government, civil society opposition to law modification, World Bank and donors opposition to the amendment, and ExxonMobil's responsibility. There are also included background materials, statements and reports. November 2005.
The rush for oil is wreaking havoc on Sudan and is fueling the genocide in Darfur at every level. This is the context in which Darfur must be understood -and, with it, the whole of Africa. The same Africa whose vast tapestry of indigenous cultures, wealth of forests and savannas was torn apart by three centuries of theft by European colonial powers -seeking slaves, ivory, gold, and diamonds- is being devastated anew by the 21st century quest for oil. August 2005.
Much has been written on the environmental and social ills of oil in Africa. This report brings together the upstream and downstream impacts of the oil industry, where the oil is drilled and where it is refined, looking at how people are resisting the political domination that accompanies oil and the alternatives to corporate rule that are germinating in civil society. (PDF document). October 2005.
The cocktail of toxic substances which has been emitted in the flares for over 40 years, including benzene and particulates, has exposed Niger Delta communities to severe health risks and property damage, in violation of their human rights. As a consecuence, these communities have filed a legal action against the Nigerian government, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation and the Shell, Exxon, Chevron, Total and Agip joint venture companies to stop gas flaring. June 2005.
This report investigates the role of British Overseas Development Aid in facilitating oil development. It finds that –far from helping the world’s poorest people– such aid often serves instead its wealthiest corporations, leaving the poor worse off than before and aggravating global climate change. April 2005, pdf format.
The background to any petroleum project is key in determining the development outcomes. In fact, the underlying development problems associated with the extraction of black gold are not inherent in the resource itself. However, there is little disagreement on the ability of oil to ratchet up pre-existing conflict in a society; oil can become the very rationale for starting war. By Akong Charles Ndika, September 2004.
The corporate complicity in human rights abuses in Sudan have resulted in the displacement of hundreds of thousands of civilians. Foreign oil companies operating in Sudan have been complicit in this displacement, and the death and destruction that have accompanied it.
Iraq has the world’s second largest proven oil reserves. According to oil industry experts, new exploration will probably raise Iraq’s reserves to 2-300 billion barrels of high-grade crude, extraordinarily cheap to produce, leading to a gold-rush of profits for international oil firms in a post-Saddam setting. The four giant firms located in the US and the UK have been keen to get back into Iraq, from which they were excluded with the nationalization of 1972. They face companies from France, Russia, China, Japan and elsewhere, who already have major concessions. But in a post-war military governments, imposed by Washington, the US-UK companies expect to overcome their rivals and gain the most lucrative oil deals that will be worth hundreds of billions, even trillions of dollars in profits in the coming decades.
As the United States wages its war on terrorism in Afghanistan –and deploys troops for the first time in the energy rich regions of Central Asia and the Caucasus– the borders of a new American empire appear to be forming.
The oil reserves of the Gulf and of Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Kuwait and Iran in particular constitute around 70% of the world’s reserves. The reports of geologists confirm that oil fields in the Northern Sea and in the United States will dry out in the next ten to twenty years. In addition to that, the cost of extracting an oil barrel per day in Iraq is less than a dollar and is around $2.5 in Saudi Arabia whereas its cost reaches 4$ in the Northern Sea and in the United States, besides the fact that the Iraqi oil is know for its superior quality. By Ziad Abdel Samad.
Halliburton, the largest oil-and-gas services company in the world, is also one of the most controversial companies in the United States. The company has been the number one financial beneficiary of the war against Iraq, raking in some $18 billion in contracts to rebuild the country's oil industry and service the U.S. troops in Iraq. It has also been accused of more fraud, waste, and corruption than any other Iraq contractor. This report details Halliburton's track record (pdf version).
It is an ecological model to replace the "eco-illogical" model, imposed under the free market paradigm of unlimited growth. Several countries are interested in developing similar models or, at least, have the same objectives. All of them include both sides of the common, but different, responsibilities. On the one side is the responsibility of the nations of the South of the planet to conserve their forests and guarantee conditions of survival of their local populations, and on the other is the responsibility of countries that contaminate the atmosphere and which need to avoid the extraction and consumption of more fossil fuels. December 2007.
The oil giant Chevron-Texaco has dished out millions of dollars to environmental causes pursuing to put a "green face" to oil exploitation in developing countries. With the help of major environmental organizations and financial support, the corporation has managed to "greenwash" it operations in the eyes of free trade policy supporters. However, examples in Nigeria and Papua New Guinea tell a different story: environmental degradation amd land appropiation are constantly denounced by local communities. May 2005.
Oil will not just "run out" because all oil production follows a bell curve. Oil is increasingly plentiful on the upslope of the bell curve, increasingly scarce and expensive on the down slope. In practical and considerably oversimplified terms, this means that if 2000 was the year of global Peak Oil, worldwide oil production in the year 2020 will be the same as it was in 1980.
This report illustrates the cases of communities living next door to the oil giant Shell, accused of human rights abuses and environmental damage around the world. Dedicated to the memory of Ken Saro-Wiwa. (PDF format). June 2005.
With all this noblesse oblige focused on saving Africa from its misery, it seems like a good time to remember someone else who tried to make poverty history: on November 10th 1995, Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight Ogoni colleagues were executed by the Nigerian state for campaigning against the devastation of the Niger Delta by oil companies, especially Shell and Chevron. Or remember also that a decade ago Bolivia was forced by the IMF to privatize its oil and gas industries on the promise that it would increase growth and spread prosperity. June 2005.
The Institute for Policy Studies released a report that shows that most oil projects supported by the World Bank supply industrialized country consumption -not developing countries' energy needs- and almost all benefit large corporations based in those countries. Halliburton leads the pack of companies benefiting from World Bank energy lending. August 2004
This report exposes the leading beneficiaries of 133 financial packages, worth over $10.7 billion, approved by the World Bank Group since 1992. The report was written by the Sustainable Energy and Economy Network (SEEN), a project of the Institute for Policy Studies. By Jim Vallette & Steve Kretzmann, April 2004. Pdf format.
"Sarayacu has a long history of opposition against the petrol exploitation, because of its grave environmental and social impacts. In 1989 we prevented the ARCO company from completing their petrol exploration in our territory. The conflict with CGC/ChevronTexaco started in 1996 when CGC and the government of Ecuador signed a contract for petrol exploration in the “Block 23”, comprising 200.000 hectares, most of which is Sarayacu territory. Sarayacu was not consulted and opposed the petrol exploration all from the beginning. In 1999 the US-based petrol company Chevron acquired 50% participation in the block. In 2001 Chevron and Texaco joined to become ChevronTexaco."
ChevronTexaco will face off against indigenous Ecuadorians in an Ecuadorian court and the stakes are massive. On 6 May attorneys representing more than 30,000 Ecuadorian rainforest peoples will file suit in Lago Agrio, a small oil town in the heart of Ecuador's Oriente region, charging the petroleum giant with systematically destroying their homeland through massive dumping of highly toxic wastewater and crude oil over the two decades of the company's operations in Ecuador.
US-based corporations lobbied for US military aid and training to Colombia for almost a year before the US Congress created and approved the $1.3 billion Plan Colombia. The companies, through the US Colombia Business Partnership —a group founded to represent US companies’ interest in Colombia— pressed the US government for the aid. The American Friends Service Committee and other organizations believe the aid is misguided because military aid only fosters the violence that has a negative impact on business. In addition, many of the companies have questionable connections to human rights violations and environmental destruction and are adding to the instability in Colombia.
While the Bush Administration relentlessly pushes for war in Iraq, they continue to fan the flames of oil wars and corporate terror around the world, and Colombia is proving to be ground zero in the other front of the War on Terrorism.
When international companies perform jobs for the oil industry in Latin America, mercenaries and armed forces are often needed for protection. The oil companies use the military systematically to suppress popular resistance. This applies particularly to criminal oil exploitation conducted without legal permits, as is often the case for Swedish construction company Skanska, in such areas as nature reserves and indigenous territories. November 2007.
The increased presence of state security forces as part of Plan Colombia, on the pretext of fighting drugs and terrorism, has also served the economic interests of the petroleum sector. Since 1999, many members of Cofán communities have been displaced because of frequent incursions into indigenous territory, selective assassinations, disappearances, forced recruitment, accusations, lawsuits, sexual abuse, destruction of property and the destruction of legal crops by aerial spraying. September 2007.
Over the course of 30 years of operations in indigenous Achuar territory in the Peruvian Amazon, Los Angeles-based Occidental Petroleum Corporation (Oxy) knowingly engaged in destructive practices which severely contaminated unique and sensitive ecosystems and caused profound impacts upon the rights and health of the communities living there. May 2007.
For the first time in the country’s history, government authority has been established decisively over how the Venezuelan oil industry is to be run and for whose benefit. Oil money is now re-channelled towards financing immeasurable employment, health, education and literacy missions throughout the country for the destitute of Venezuela, specifically for women. By Renato Redentor Constantino, August 2004.
Company accused in class-action lawsuit of despoiling Amazon region with crude: international activists who have been aiding the plaintiffs -30,000 Amazonian peasants and Indians- say the case could be a milestone in ensuring that U.S.-based companies conduct their foreign operations responsibly.
Scheduled to begin working in 2005, the pipeline from the Caspian Sea port of Baku, in Azerbaijan, to Ceyhan, in Turkey, is expected to bring in more than £65m annually to the regions through which it passes. But there are doubts about whether the money generated will benefit people and the environment in the area - or simply corrupt officials among the "corridor" governments.