09 June 2008

What is MOSOP thinking?

AFP recently reported that the President of Nigeria, Umaru Yar'Adua, would replace oil giant Shell as an operator in Ogoniland. This represents the first steps in 15 to resuming oil production in this part of the Niger Delta. While acknowledging Shell's horrid activities of the past is a good first step by the government, it is surprising to hear how eager the Ogoni and MOSOP are to have ANY oil company operating in their lands.

Oil extraction, especially in Nigeria, is a messy and dangerous process, that in all instances has brought with it misery and degradation. Why would a new operator in Ogoni be any different?Simply because they are not Shell? As MOSOP states, it will "seek to play a constructive and leading role in the debate over what will be required of an oil operator to win the confidence of our communities and provide a groundbreaking positive model for the Niger Delta." Maybe the groundbreaking model should be one that respects the gains of the past and tells the oil companies, no matter under what banner, "You are not welcome here!"

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