The Price of Oil: Shell Paid Nigerian Military to Violently Supress Protests


I don’t believe America went to war against Iraq for oil, but that doesn’t mean Big Oil’s hands are clean though. Recently released reports show that on at least two occasions, Shell had paid the Nigerian miltary substantial sums of money and that same military brutally repressed an area that just happened to be protesting Shell.

I won’t recap the struggle of the people of Ogoni against Shell here; suffice to say, there are plenty of websites devoted to the ongoing battle between these two entities going back to the discovery of oil at the Oloibiri Well (pictured above) in 1956. But according to documents, memos, and testimony, Shell was heavily involved, at least in a supporting role, of the brutal supression of the Ogoni by the Nigerian military.

One incident describes Shell trucks, helicopters, and facilities being used to ferry Nigerian soldiers to Ogoni to suppress protesterss, which were often shot at and beat down by the military. Another incident claims that one Ogoni villager was killed, and two wounded when 24 armed soldiers went to retrieve two fire trucks that had been confiscated on behalf of Shell. Documents have also revealed that Shell paid one known militia group over $159,000 as recently as last year, and that this group killed and tortured Ogoni residents.

Other accusations run the gamut from failure to clean up oil spills to refusing to compensate those who suffer due to the spills. Under Nigerian law, oil companies are only responsible for cleaning up oil spills, and need not compensate land owners if the spill was caused by sabotage. So is it any surprise that shell claims 90% of the spills are caused by sabotage? And this is just the stuff we’re hearing about. Who knows how close the oft-overturned Nigerian government and Shell really are and what other atrocities they have committed?

Oil is an ugly business, and Nigeria is one of the many countries suffering in the name of oil extraction. Large companies that sell oil in America should be required to uphold the same environmental laws here as they do abroad because all too often, cost-cutting comes at the sacrifice of environmental and human safety. And that just ain’t right.

Source: The Guardian | Image: Jeremy Weate

Chris DeMorro is a writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to HEMIs. You can read about his slow descent into madness at Sublime Burnout or follow his non-nonsensical ramblings on Twitter @harshcougar.

About the Author

A writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to HEMIs, can be found wrenching or writing- or else, he's running, because he's one of those crazy people who gets enjoyment from running insane distances.
  • Maybe you don´t believe, Chris. But everybody around the globe and many people in the states think and have proved the opposite. The war was for oil. The benefits are even not for the american people, but for some politicians, Shell, Texaco and the likes.

  • ziv

    Fher, proved? I call BS. The Iraq war was a lot of stupid things, but it was only secondarily about oil. Look at how the Army/Marines basically ignored the oil infrastructure of Iraq, before, during and after the active hostilities portion of the conflict. And then there is the way the politicians didn’t secure the contracts for the US oil companies in the years after the war.
    Oil is a nearly fungible good, we get the benefits of Iraq’s oil whether we control Iraq or not. ‘No blood for oil’ makes a nice slogan but the real world is a lot more complicated.
    George W. and Cheney wanted to fight Al Queda and figured they would lose if they fought them in Afghanistan, the destroyer of empires. So they moved the war to Iraq where they thought they could win. It sounds cold blooded, which is why they didn’t pitch the idea to the American public. But it worked, kind of. AQ attacked America every two years or so before 9/11, haven’t been able to hit our interests anywhere but Iraq and Afghanistan since. Was it worth it? I don’t know. But saying the war was about oil skips over the real reasons for the war.

  • What is it that makes oil companies so much more evil than all other big companies? Before attempting to answer that, understand that they are no different than any other big industry, big pharma, big ag, big auto, big aerospace and on and on. Dig around and you will find articles about poor people being displaced from land and murdered to make room for biofuel crops like palm oil and cane. Human nature is a constant wherever you go, regardless of industry.

  • Russ said it well, human nature is human nature. Whether it is for oil or any other commodity, if the rich want it and the poor have it…, things like are bound to happen (always have, always will).

    Most people in western society (and not just in the US), haven’t got a clue (and mostly don’t want to know) what human suffering there is behind a gallon of gas, that $20 pair of jeans at WalMart or their expresso at Starbucks.

    That is human nature.