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Niger Delta: Rift between Shell and Local Industry Deepens

THE rift between the Anglo-Dutch oil and gas major, Shell, and the warring local players in the industry is taking a turn for the worse. AkanimoReports says the arrowheads of the local people, the Niger Delta Indigenous Movement for Radical Change, barely an hour ago, threatened to expose the ''secrets'' of the big oil if they failed to halt their alleged subversive activities in the volatile Niger Delta.

This is coming as the company struggled to explained its innocence in the mounting allegations by the protesting group.

Already, leaders of the warring group, Mesrs Nelly Emma, John Sailor, and Mukoro Stanley, are claiming that the big oil is not telling the public the truth about their ''dealings'' with local contractors..

Obviously provoked, the group said, ''we will not allow Shell to frustrate any community again in this region as they did in Ogoni, Rivers State''.

They had earlier warned Shell to either encourage local contractors or get out of the Niger Delta. The group accused the oil company's Managing Director, Mr. Mutiu Sunmonu, of subverting the Local Content Act of Nigeria, a major plank of the Goodluck Jonathan administration to broaden local content in the industry.

Shell, they claim, only gives out jobs less than N10 million to local contractors while at the same time doling out plum jobs to firms like Saipem, Daewoo and O.P.I. for several millions of dollars.

“Since President Jonathan signed the Local Content Policy into Law April 22, 2010, Shell has not done anything to encourage Nigerian core investors in the Oil and Gas Industry. The company is not telling the truth and if we are wrong, then, we challenge the company to publish names of the local investors that they have encouraged otherwise, we will reveal a lot of secrets that the company is hiding from the public'', they said.

Continuing, they said ''Jobs worth $10 million were only awarded to some companies where Shell managers have stakes before the Local Content Act came into force''.

Meanwhile, Mr. Joseph Obari, Shell's Media Relations Officer in Warri, Delta State has said that the big oil has taken deliberate steps to encourage the development of community and Nigerian content in its operations, and the Managing Director, Mr. Mutiu Sunmonu has developed a deep personal interest in making sure communities are involved in the company’s operations as much as possible.

According to him, ''in 2006, Shell set up the Community Content team in a deliberate effort to encourage communities to take full advantage of opportunities in the oil and gas industry. Between 2009 and last year, some 589 community vendors were registered with Shell''.

Adding, he said, ''Shell awards them contracts and builds their capacity through business clinics, entrepreneurship and vendor development, project management and professional certification for a variety of disciplines and services. On July 2, 2011, Shell launched the NNPC/Shell Kobo Fund, which is a unique solution to the funding problems facing this category of contractors. The fund is jointly being managed by First Bank, UBA and Zenith Bank.

“Indeed, Shell companies in Nigeria encourage Nigerian content development by promoting the use of locally manufactured goods as well as community and Nigerian service companies in production operations, projects and well engineering.

''Last year, Shell-run companies in the country awarded contracts worth nearly $947 million to Nigerian companies. This represented more than 96% of the overall number of contracts, and amounted to over 94% of the total amount spent on these transactions,” Mr. Obari pointed out.


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