Drill Baby Drill: Shell’s Oily Misadventures And Jordan

Stumbling on two articles today, I couldn’t help but note the connection.

Documents that have recently surfaced prove that Shell oil company worked alongside the Nigerian military to suppress local resistance to its oil activities. The company essentially paid off the military to stop peaceful protests that targetted Shell’s environmental travisties and it even helped plan raids on “opposing” villages. The result is well known of course – the death of thousands and a refugee crisis of civilians fleeing the violence.

The company has been sued many times over its conduct in Nigeria. Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch (HRW) say oil companies working in the delta, of which Shell is the largest, have overseen a “human rights tragedy”. Most of the alleged human rights abuses, they say, follow the companies’ refusal to abide by acceptable environmental standards. Despite the flood of lawsuits, cases can be delayed for years. Very few people are able to take on the oil giant, which has 90 oil fields in the delta where it has operated since the 1950s.[source]

While this all might sound like the work of economic hitmen, theories aside, the reality of the situation has always been quite evident. Multinational oil companies pillage a resource-rich country, and make sure the government of that country keeps its people in check. Which brings me to the second article:

Royal Dutch Shell PLC (RDSA) has drilled more than 100 wells in Jordan in the two years since it a concession agreement to explore for oil from the country’s vast oil shale reserves, a person familiar with the project said.

Shell signed a production-sharing agreement with Jordan in May 2009 and pledged to spend some $500 million for exploration, assessment and designs on the project. The project aims at exploring for and, if successful, developing and producing oil from Jordan’s vast oil shale resources that are estimated at 40 billion metric tons. Many analysts now see oil shale–an unconventional form of oil contained in difficult-to-extract reservoirs–as a serious rival to crude. [source]

Like pretty much everything in Jordan’s political sphere – strategies, visions and public policy is dictated without any consultation from the public arena. Whether it is amending our constitution, changing the election law or determining our energy future that includes nuclear energy, the local population is never consulted nor do they participate in the policy formation. Instead, we end up selling our resources to the highest bidder in the hopes of receiving very little in return, of which most of that revenue will go towards paying our national debt, which was caused and continues to be fueld largely by these policies in the first place.

And when the consequences eventually emerge and take their toll on local communities who are forced to oppose them – well, the result is, again, quite evident. But until then, we’re stuck with a multinational oil corporation digging around in our country, conducting experiments with its in-situ conversion process (and I emphasize the word “experiment” given that they’ve been doing this for 30 years now), and to top it all off, the company comes with a history of helping to brutally surpress local opposition to its work, to say nothing of its environmental track record.


  • No matter where oil is pumped or drilled for or where oil shale is extracted and processed, there will always be environmental issues, sometimes sooner, sometimes later. Experience shows that this seems to be inevitable. So as long as we need oil, it will be important that Governments regulate very clearly and strictly on environmental issues that come with oil and oil shale production, don’t collude with oil companies when things go wrong and hold them responsible. And that seems to be valid for any company, not just Shell.

  • Well spotted Nas. For more reading on Shell in Nigeria see http://remembersarowiwa.com/, a project documenting Shell’s past and current destruction in the Niger delta.

    Ken Saro Wiwa was an Ogoni activist executed by the Nigerian regime in 1995 for bravely fighting Shell.

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