Posts Tagged ‘Chevron’

Nigeria: Frühlingserwachen?

Mittwoch, Dezember 28th, 2011

“Ogoni Establish Their Own Environmental Protection Agency

By Ahni Dec 27, 2011

The Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People (MOSOP), an Ogoni-based non-governmental, non-political organization for the Ogoni people of South-Eastern Nigeria, have announced the creation of a new Environmental Protection Agency to make sure that oil companies operating in Ogoniland, like Chevron and Royal Dutch Shell, are held accountable for their ‘environmental crimes’.

Ogoni Establishes Environmental Protection Agency

Monday, 26 December 2011, 6:39 pm
Press Release: MOSOP Media

A measure to make sure that Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Royal Dutch/Shell and others face compelling action to hold them accountable for environmental crimes in Ogoni.

MOSOP President and Spokesman, Dr. Goodluck Diigbo said that the Ogoni people have learnt the hardest lesson that it was not the wisest thing to do, to allow petroleum operations in Ogoni without a formal Environmental Impact Assessment Study (EIAS).

He said other relevant companies must be required to conduct EIAS to merit continual operations in Ogoni.

Dr. Diigbo said this today, 24th December, 2011 during a MOSOP inter-kingdom assembly held at Akpajo, Eleme near Port Harcourt. He, then, announced the establishment of an Ogoni Environmental Protection Agency (OGEPA), headed by Mr. John Lar-Wisa.

Lar-Wisa, currently serves as Secretary of Amnesty International Group 17 in Nigeria and has nearly 20 years of community and public service. Earlier in the week, Lar-Wisa’s appointment had been debated and approved by a joint-meeting of elected village councilors and MOSOP Central Assembly.

“As a people, the Ogoni who depend upon cultures, spiritual traditions, histories and philosophies, especially our rights to lands, territories and resources for political, economic and social survival, we cannot wait for another 25 – 30 years.

The Ogoni people cannot fold their hands and hope that one day, the NNPC (Nigerian government oil company), Royal Dutch/Shell and Chevron will knock at our doors to accept responsibility for devastation of our land,; without significant and compelling action by the Ogoni people,” Diigbo remarked.

According to Dr. Diigbo, the task of OGEPA is to coordinate efforts to protect the inherent rights and means of livelihood of the Ogoni people, ensure healthy and safer environment.

He stated that OGEPA will collaborate with similar institutions, the Ogoni Central Indigenous Authority (OCIA) and nongovernmental organizations worldwide.

“With its three-tier operational strategy, OGEPA will cooperate with its sub-committees at the village, kingdom and central levels to make sure that Ogonis do not engage in activities detrimental to the environment,” Diigbo said.

The 21 member agency has Chief Nwakaji Ngei of Ogale village in Eleme Kingdom as the Deputy Administrator.

Prior to his appointment by the Central Assembly of MOSOP, Lar-Wisa coordinated the Ogoni team that monitored the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) Ogoni Environmental Assessment, led by Mr. Mike Cowing.

Lar-Wisa had initiated international dialogue and shared information on due process as he had tried to persuade Cowing and his UNEP colleagues to comply with the UNEP, World Bank and Nigerian guidelines for conduct of EIAS.

Lar-Wisa has also worked as design and draughtsman/engineer with NISSCO Ltd, Warri; Naval Draughtsman with Witt & Busch (Shipyard) Ltd., PH., senior CAD Designer with Point Engineering, PH, Field Engineer with Aveon Offshore Ltd., PH. Sec., NUPENG – NISSCO, Assistant Secretary of PENGASSAN – NISSCO and assistant secretary of Bori State Movement and in several other capacities.

John Lar-Wisa who holds a Certificate in Civil Engineering and Bachelor of Science degree Political Science will oversee activities of OGEPA.

All the elected village councilors under the newly created Ogoni Central Indigenous Authority (OCIA) will sit on the village boards of OGEPA.”

 

(Quelle: Intercontinental Cry.)

Europa: Privat vor Staat…

Donnerstag, Mai 19th, 2011

Investment Treaties Undemocratic

By Daan Bauwens

A proposal to put an end to the highly anti-democratic nature of the European Union’s Bilateral Investment Treaties was heavily watered down by a plenary voting in the European Parliament. However, in their current form the treaties may pose a serious risk for European democracy.

Bilateral Investment Treaties (BITs) establish the conditions for private investment by companies of one state in another state. The treaty can be signed by any two nations but in most cases BITs are agreed upon by EU member states and developing countries. Without BITs, many investments would not be done in insecure environments that need economic development.

During the last couple of months, BITs have become the subject of heavy debate at the European headquarters here. Since the Lisbon Treaty came into force in 2009, foreign investment has become a European Union competence instead of a national one. Subsequently, the question had to be answered what should happen to the existing national BITs while Europe was developing its own investment policy.

INTA, the Committee on international trade, was commissioned to find a solution. As rapporteur of the Committee, Carl Shlyter of the European Greens (EGP) took the opportunity to try to change the highly problematic nature of existing BITs.

“BITs were invented to protect your investment,” Carl Shlyter tells IPS, “but in reality, they are much stronger: they are used throughout the world by companies to challenge democratic decisions of a state, whenever the company thinks this democratic decision could harm its profits.”

Nathalie Bernasconi-Osterwalder is an international lawyer and leads the investment programme of the International Institute on Sustainable Development (IISD). She was called upon by INTA in November 2010 as an international expert on investment. “In these cases the investor instead of a state implements the treaty,” she tells IPS. “Investors are less hesitant than stated to challenge a democratic decision because they themselves can’t be challenged for the same issues.”

According to recent UN data, last year 25 new investor-state cases were filed, bringing the total number of known investor-state cases before UN tribunals to 390. One emblematic case is the case of Chevron vs. Ecuador. In 2003, Ecuadorian Amazon residents sued Chevron because of environmental harm and personal injuries caused by the company’s operations.

Chevron filed a lawsuit against the state of Ecuador, based on a BIT between the United States and Ecuador, arguing that the Ecuadorian court’s handling of the lawsuit between the Amazon residents and Chevron was unfair. This would constitute a violation of Chevron’s rights under the BIT. The international arbitrary tribunal awarded Chevron 700 million dollars damages.

“Investor-state disputes have a chilling effect,” says Shlyter. “Politicians might not even dare to proceed with a new law out of fear they will be challenged by companies and will have to pay the compensation. They are very harmful for policy-making,” he tells IPS.

Shlyter suggests that the EU should have the power to challenge existing BITs when they are in conflict with the Lisbon Treaty provisions on equal opportunities, human rights, social and environmental development.

But there are more reasons why the current form of BITs is troublesome. “The cases are decided on by an ad-hoc arbitrary tribunal, not by a permanent panel of judges,” Nathalie Osterwalder-Bernasconi tells IPS.

“The arbitrators mostly are lawyers working for a private law firm. In one case, they can be arguing for the investor or the state. In the next case, they will be the arbitrators. In investment treaties, you just have a few recurring legal questions that keep coming up. If you’re an arbitrator, you can make a decision knowing that can help you in your next case you’re doing as a lawyer.”

Next to that, the decisions of the tribunal are not made public. “The investor-state disputes remain completely unknown to the public,” says Shlyter. “Not even the European Commission has access to the documents of the cases.”

Next to the conflict of interest and the lack of transparency, there is a reversal of the burden of proof. “While the investor can bring a claim, the state can never bring a claim,” Bernasconi-Osterwalder tells IPS. “States have no real rights under these treaties, only obligations.”

In the proposal Carl Shlyter wrote for the EU Commission on International Trade, he proposed that future BITs should should contain a clause to prevent the watering down of social and environmental laws. He also proposed to end the existing investor-state dispute system and suggested improvements in transparency.

Shlyter’s proposals were defeated at the Committee vote on Apr. 13. Because the Committee vote was very close, the Committee decided to put the report to a plenary vote in the European Parliament. But also in the plenary vote last week Tuesday, the proposals did not make it through.

However, in their current form, the BITs also pose a threat to European democracy. Seventeen percent of all known investor-state disputes are against EU member states. In 2009, Swedish energy giant Vattenfall sued the German government for 1.4 billion euros because of new environmental laws. According to the most recent U.N. data, the case has been settled. The terms of the settlement, however, remain unknown.

But it is the emerging economies Europe has failed to take into account while voting on the proposal. “Nowadays, there are big Indian and Chinese private investors,” says Nathalie Bernasconi-Osterwalder. “China will have more and more private investment in the future, I think that is part of their strategy. The investment flows are really going in both directions and I’m sure it will increase. In that sense, the danger exists European states will get increasingly challenged,” she tells IPS. (END)”

 

(Quelle: IPS News.)

USA: Öl-Konzern Chevron startet neue Image-Kampagne

Donnerstag, Oktober 28th, 2010

Der US-Ölkonzern Chevron versucht sich dieser Tage mittels einer millionenschweren PR-Kampagne (“We agree”) ein neues, umwelt- und menschenfreundliches Image zu geben. Wohl auch, um so seine Aktivitäten in Ecuador vergessen zu machen:

 
 

 
 

Neben zahlreichen Umweltorganisationen erheben dagegen jetzt auch die Yes Men ihre Stimme. Ihre Strategie lautet Aufklärung und – Satire.

 
 
chevron.jpg
 
 

(Quelle: Chevron Thinks We’re Stupid.)

Global: Entwicklungsländer fordern Entschädigung für Umweltkatastrophen

Dienstag, August 24th, 2010

Pay Developing Nations For Eco-Disasters

The $20bil put aside by BP to pay for the effects of the Gulf oil spill contrasts with the lack of accountability of big firms that cause environmental harm in developing countries.

In a widely publicised move in June, the United States’ President Barrack Obama succeeded in getting the oil company BP to set aside US$20 billion into a fund to meet claims for compensating losses arising from the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

It is extraordinary that a giant company has been pressurised by a government to agree to pay so much. The funds will be used to meet claims for economic losses of local people in the Gulf Coast states whose incomes have been lost due to the spill (for example the tourist business has collapsed) and to pay the cost for the environmental clean up.

Another US$100 million fund will be set up to pay workers laid off due to suspension of offshore drilling. BP will also suspend paying dividends so that there is enough cash for the new funds.

A US Congress committee also grilled the CEO of BP Tony Hayward for seven hours.

Obama’s move and BP’s agreement to compensate were clearly the result of the growing anger of Americans at both BP and the government, which had lax or absent implementation of safety regulations.

Americans are angry that it has taken so many months to fix the problem. Meanwhile 11 oil workers died in the rig explosion, a lot of marine life will perish and many thousands of local people will have their livelihoods damaged.

It may indeed be the United States’ worst ever environmental disaster. But there have been much worst ecological catastrophes in developing countries, caused by giant companies, many of them American.

Many more lives were lost and livelihoods damaged, and the environmental cost has been higher. But little if any compensation has been paid by these companies. And the governments of the countries in which the companies are headquartered have turned a blind eye.

Bhopal, India

The most outstanding case is that of Bhopal in which the emission of poisonous gas from US-owned company Union Carbide in that Indian town in 1984 affected half a million people, killed 2,300 people immediately, with another 15,000 to 30,000 dying subsequently and many thousands of others maimed seriously. Even now the land and water in the vicinity continue to be contaminated with toxic chemicals that affect human health.

The factory was then owned by the US company Union Carbide, which in 2001 was taken over by Dow Chemical. The Bhopal factory was sold to a local firm in 1992.

Union Carbide never accepted responsibility for the disaster, and neither has Dow. An arrest warrant for Union Carbide’s then chairman Warren Anderson was issued in India but he has not been brought to trial.

Union Carbide paid US$470 million in a deal in 1989 with the Indian government, but this is a small amount, given the enormous numbers of people who died, were injured and continue to suffer.

On 7 June this year, an Indian court found 7 former executives of the Indian subsidiary of the company guilty of negligence and they were given sentences of two years’ jail, which is being appealed against. According to reports from India, the Bhopal residents and their supporters are dismayed by such a light sentence, and that they are still waiting for proper compensation.

However, the court case and perhaps Obama’s actions on BP have spurred new actions in India.

The Indian government on 24 June announced enhanced compensation to the victims, an environmental clean-up plan, and to make new efforts to extradite Anderson to face court action in India.

The government is also exploring the possibility of new legal action to reconsider the $470 million fixed earlier in an out-of-court settlement between the government and Union Carbide, and later approved by the Supreme Court. A curative petition may be filed in the Supreme Court to seek higher consideration.

Ecuador Oil Dumping in Forest

A second case is that of the Ecuador, whose Amazon region was contaminated by oil and oil waste in amounts far larger than the Gulf Oil spill so far. The oil and waste was discharged by Texaco (bought over by Chevron in 2001) when it operated an oil concession in 1964-1990.

The New York Times in May 2009 reported indigenous people resident in the area saying that toxic chemicals had leaked into their soils, groundwater and streams, and that their children had died from the poisoning. It cited a report of an expert (contested by the company) who estimated that 1,400 people had died of cancer because of oil contamination.

The indigenous groups have taken a court case against Chevron for US$27 billon in damages. They accuse Chevron of dumping more than 345 million gallons of crude oil into the rainforest. Chevron is also said to have dumped 18.5 billion gallons of toxic waste in pits in the forests.

Experts sympathetic to the local people claim that the disaster has devastated their lands, income and health to a degree far larger than the BP spill in the Gulf.

US Congressman James P. McGovern, the vice-chairman of the House Rules Committee, visited Ecuador in 2009 and is reported to have written to Obama that “the degradation and contamination left behind by [Chevron] in a poor part of the world made me angry and ashamed… I also saw the infrastructure Texaco/Chevron created that allowed the wholesale dumping of formation water and other highly toxic materials directly into the Amazon and its waters.”

Niger Delta Oil Contamination

A third case is that of the Niger Delta in Nigeria, in which oil is extracted by Shell, Exxon and other giant companies.

An article in The Observer entitled “Nigeria’s agony dwarfs the Gulf oil spill: The US and Europe ignore it”, describes how oil spilt from pipelines and other sources has contaminated swamps, rivers, forests and farmlands in the region.

“In fact, more oil is spilled from the delta’s network of terminals, pipes, pumping stations and oil platforms every year than has been lost in the Gulf of Mexico,” wrote John Vidal.

A report by environment groups calculated in 2006 that up to 1.5m tons of oil – 50 times the pollution unleashed in the Exxon Valdez tanker disaster in Alaska – has been spilled in the delta over the past half century. Last year Amnesty calculated that the equivalent of at least 9m barrels of oil was spilled and accused the oil companies of a human rights outrage.

On 1 May a ruptured ExxonMobil pipeline spilled more than a million gallons into the delta over seven days and thick balls of tar are being washed up along the coast. Local people blame the oil pollution for the fall in life expectancy in the rural communities to a littlle above 40 years.

According to the writer Ben Ikari, “This kind of spill happens all the time in the delta. The oil companies just ignore it. When I see the efforts that are being made in the US I feel a great sense of sadness at the double standards.”

“We see frantic efforts being made to stop the spill in the US,” said Nnimo Bassey, Nigerian head of Friends of the Earth International. “But in Nigeria, oil companies largely ignore their spills, cover them up and destroy people’s livelihood and environments. The Gulf spill can be seen as a metaphor for what is happening daily in the oilfields of Nigeria and other parts of Africa.

Compensation Must Be Accountable

These cases show a big contrast between what the US administration is doing to hold a multinational company financially accountable, and how similar companies that cause ecological catastrophes in developing countries are able to get away either freely or with grossly inadequate pay-outs.

What the US administration and Congress are doing to get BP to compensate for the environmental and economic damage it is causing is commendable and should be supported.

Developing countries should learn a lesson from the US and take similar action in line with the “polluter pays” principle.

And just as importantly, the governments of the home countries of the multinationals should also act to make their companies accountable for their actions when they operate in other countries, and to compensate adequately when they cause environmental damage.

There should be an international understanding or agreement among the governments to the effect that they will support one another to obtain redress from companies to compensate for the environmental damage fact they cause.

Martin Khor is the Executive Director of the South Centre.

He can be contacted at: director@southcentre.org

(Quelle: South Centre.)

Erdölkonzerne: Tiefsee-Bohrungen auf gut Glück

Dienstag, Mai 18th, 2010

“WORLD: Disaster Plans Lacking at Deep Rigs

By Ben Casselman and Guy Chazen

A huge jolt convulsed an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico. The pipe down to the well on the ocean floor, more than a mile below, snapped in two. Workers battled a toxic spill.

That was 2003—seven years before last month’s Deepwater Horizon disaster, which killed 11 people and sent crude spewing into the sea. And in 2004, managers of BP PLC, the oil giant involved in both incidents, warned in a trade journal that the company wasn’t prepared for the long-term, round-the-clock task of dealing with a deep-sea spill.

It still isn’t, as Deepwater Horizon demonstrates and as BP’s chief executive, Tony Hayward said recently. It’s “probably true” that BP didn’t do enough planning in advance of the disaster, Mr. Hayward said. There are some capabilities, he said, “that we could have available to deploy instantly, rather than creating as we go.”

It’s a problem that spans the industry, whose major players include Chevron Corp, Royal Dutch Shell and Petróleo Brasileiro SA. Without adequately planning for trouble, the oil business has focused on developing experimental equipment and techniques to drill in ever deeper waters, according to a Wall Street Journal examination of previous deepwater accidents. As drillers pushed the boundaries, regulators didn’t always mandate preparation for disaster recovery or perform independent monitoring.

The brief, roughly two-decade history of deepwater drilling has seen serious problems: fires, equipment failures, wells that collapsed, platforms that nearly sank. Since last July, one brand-new deepwater rig—among the 40 or so operating in at least 1,000 feet of water in the Gulf—was swept by fire. Another lost power and started to drift, threatening to detach from the wellhead. Poor maintenance at a third deepwater well led to a serious gas leak, according to regulatory records.

By some measures, offshore drilling has become safer in recent years. Industry backers argue that major accidents are rare. The rate of serious injuries in U.S. waters fell 71% between 1998 and 2008, and the number of serious oil spills has also been falling once hurricanes are taken into account. Moreover, deepwater drilling is by some measures safer than drilling in shallower waters, where rigs are often older and operated by smaller companies.

Still, drilling for oil at depths no human could survive presents special risks when something does go wrong. The water pressure is crushing, the seabed temperature is almost freezing, the underground conditions explosive. The rapid push into deeper water means that some projects rely on technology that hasn’t been used before.

“It’s like outer space, in terms of the complexity of the operating environment,” said Robin West, who helped oversee offshore-drilling policy under President Ronald Reagan and is now chairman of PFC Energy, a consulting firm.

In 2008, Chevron was plagued with accidents while using the Discoverer Deep Seas rig in more than 7,000 feet of water in the Gulf. There was a fire, then a leak deep under the sea. Finally the cement and steel casing inside the well collapsed, allowing drilling fluid to flow out of control. Workers stopped the flow only by permanently plugging the well.

Chevron says the well was “safely and permanently” abandoned after the problems. “One of Chevron’s core values is the safety of our employees, contractors and neighbors,” Chevron spokesman Kurt Glaubitz said. “It is fundamental to how we operate.”

BP has led the charge into the deepest, most challenging environments. Last week Mr. Hayward, the CEO, said, “It’s clear that we will find things we can do differently.”

As companies have moved farther offshore, drilling has gotten increasingly expensive. BP was paying nearly $500,000 a day to lease the Deepwater Horizon from Transocean Ltd. and paid roughly that much again for other equipment and services.

One of the most serious safety hazards on rigs are “blowouts,” the uncontrolled flows of oil and natural gas like the one that brought down the Deepwater Horizon. They remain relatively rare, but no more so than in the 1960s, when equipment was much more primitive.

That’s in part because, even as the gear used to fight blowouts has improved, the industry has steadily pushed into deeper waters.

“While drilling as a whole may be advancing to keep up with these environments, some parts lag behind,” Texas A&M professors Samuel Noynaert and Jerome Schubert wrote in a 2005 paper published in an industry journal. “An area that has seen this stagnation and resulting call for change has been blowout control in deep and ultra-deep waters.”

The professors declined to comment for this article.

Serious accidents like the Deepwater Horizon have been rare, but not unheard of. In 2001, an oil-and-gas-production platform off Brazil’s coast exploded and ultimately sank, killing 11 people.

Offshore drilling is almost (…).”

Weiterlesen…

(Quelle: Wall Street Journal.)