Shell to face hearings on Nigeria work

Jan. 6, 2011 at 5:25 PM   |   Comments

AMSTERDAM, Netherlands, Jan. 6 (UPI) -- Officials with Royal Dutch Shell said they were invited before the Dutch Parliament to discuss ongoing concerns about activity in the oil-rich Niger Delta.

Royal Dutch Shell is under fire for its operations in Nigeria as oil rebels ramp up activity following the collapse of a November cease-fire. The Dutch Parliament invited Shell in for what was described as a "fact-finding session" to address Shell's work in Nigeria, London's Telegraph newspaper reports.

Some activists say Shell is responsible for chronic oil spills in Nigeria, which some environmental groups estimate could have spilled as much as 9 million barrels of crude oil since the 1950s. The company blames rebels for the spills, though advocacy groups counter their claims.

Shell officials in an e-mail message to United Press International said they were invited to the Netherlands for a round-table conference on West African development Jan. 26 in part to address Nigeria.

A Shell spokesman told UPI that the Dutch session was planned before lawmakers visited Nigeria.

Meanwhile, Ann Pickard, now chairwoman of Shell's operations in Australia, was quoted as saying in leaked U.S. diplomatic documents given by WikiLeaks to London's Guardian newspaper that her company had access "to everything" inside the Nigeria government.

Shell described the leaked diplomatic cables as "untrue" and a spokesman from the state-owned Nigerian National Petroleum Corp. downplayed the cable as the "interpretation" of a U.S. envoy.

The Nigerian army launched a major offensive against rebel groups operating in the Niger Delta about six weeks ago.

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