IUCN - Independent Panel to advise on rehabilitation and remediation of oil spill sites in the Niger Delta

Independent Panel to advise on rehabilitation and remediation of oil spill sites in the Niger Delta

30 November 2011 | News story

The deadline for submissions to the Independent Panel on the Niger Delta has been extended until Thursday 22 December 2011.

Following extensive consultations with its Members and other stakeholders in Nigeria, IUCN has agreed in principle with the Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited (SPDC) to establish an Independent Advisory Panel to advise on improved rehabilitation and remediation of oil spill sites in the Niger Delta. Oil spills are a critical concern for both people and nature in the Niger Delta, an important wetland comprising a number of sensitive ecosystems with high levels of biodiversity.

Comprising leading international and Nigerian experts, the panel will collect ecological and social information related to SPDC oil spill-affected sites in the Niger Delta, and make recommendations for improvements to company and national standards for remediation and rehabilitation of such sites.

IUCN consulted with IUCN Members and other stakeholders in Nigeria, all of whom were supportive of the proposed initiative. IUCN is currently in the process of establishing the Independent Advisory panel which will be managed by IUCN in a similar way to the successful Western Gray Whale Advisory Panel (in Sakhalin, Russia) and the IUCN-Holcim Independent Expert Panel, with members selected through an open recruitment process led by IUCN. As a first step, IUCN Director General, Julia Marton-Lefèvre has asked Professor Emmanuel Asuquo Obot to lead the panel. Professor Obot is the Executive Director of the Nigerian Conservation Foundation (IUCN Member) and member of the Steering Committee of the IUCN Commission on the Environment, Economics, and Social Policy (CEESP).

Next, the IUCN Secretariat will, through a communication that will be posted on the IUCN Members’ portal, be calling for submissions of interest to participate in the specific expert roles required on the panel. Chairs of Commissions will also be asked to disseminate this information to Commission Members. The panel members will be selected by a committee comprising the panel Chair and senior Secretariat staff.

The panel is expected to be operational by early 2012 and to work for a period of three years. The Panel will draw heavily on Nigerian expertise as well as on knowledge and experience from other organizations and reports.

Julia Marton-Lefèvre, said: “Along with our Members in Nigeria, I fully support this initiative. Oil spills in the Niger Delta are having serious impacts on both nature and people. We need the best possible independent scientific and technical advice to change the situation for the better – something that we hope to achieve through the new panel. However, the panel can only give advice. Improved implementation depends on SPDC, Nigerian authorities and the affected communities and their organizations.”

In addition to providing SPDC advice on the best science-based standards, guidelines and best practices for SPDC’s remediation and rehabilitation processes, the Independent Advisory Panel will develop long-term monitoring and biodiversity impact and recovery indicators to assess SPDC’s implementation of the recommendations. The panel will also seek to encourage other oil & gas companies operating in the Niger Delta to adopt its recommendations, and develop a strategy to safeguard remaining areas of biodiversity importance from the effects of potential future spills.

SPDC is a wholly owned Shell company in Nigeria and is the operator of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC; 55%), Shell (30%), Total (TEPNL) (10%) and Nigerian Agip Oil Company Limited (5%) joint venture.

Kindly note that the deadline for submissions has been extended and is now Thursday 22 December 2011.

For further information contact: Deric Quaile - IUCN Business and Biodiversity Programme; deric.quaile@iucn.org