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Shell Case Study

Essay by   •  December 6, 2010  •  2,093 Words (9 Pages)  •  1,366 Views

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To truly understand the impact Royal Dutch/Shell (referred to hereafter as Shell) had in Nigeria, you must understand how Shell and the Nigerian government worked almost hand in hand in making life miserable for the Ogoni people. The Ogoni are people indigenous to the Delta region, where Shell does most of its work in that country. The Nigerian government has been dominated and ruled by military groups, interrupted only by brief periods of civil rule. The military government of Nigeria and shell oil have each benefited greatly from their relationship.

The Nigerian government committed horrible acts on the Ogoni people. This government rules its people with an iron fist, and meets any problems it may have with the people with sudden and brutal force. Some of the governments' problems included people such as Ken Saro-Wiwa, an Ogoni environmental activist. Despite worldwide condemnation and protest, the Nigerian government executed this man. He was tried on some trumped up and baseless charges. To further complicate the issue, the trial was a special military tribunal, whose decisions is final and cannot be appealed. Shell and the government bribed witnesses. The trial lasted only eight days, and had a gross lack of evidence, and defense attorneys were not allowed to meet with Ken Saro-Wiwa; the government executed him and eight other activists eight days after the trial. Among other atrocities committed by the government since 1933 are: the destruction of over twenty Ogoni villages, the murder of nearly two thousand Ogoni people, and making tens of thousands of Ogoni's homeless. One question begs to be answered, and that is why?

The government has greatly benefited from Shell, and can attribute most of their longevity in power to Shell. Over half of the money that the government has used to remain in power came from the generous pockets of Shell. Shell has also helped the government in many other ways as well. The government has received weapons, funding for the military and its operations, in addition to many other perks. So what has Shell received in return for its generosity? This question can be answered in one word, Protection. According to an web based article, "Shell's behavior in Ogoniland appears more like a that a ruthless thief protected by brutal thugs."

Shell would not have been able to extract over thirty billion dollars in oil from the land of the Ogoni's without a little help from a big mean friend. Shell has received military aid from the government in the form of private police. The "Shell Police" as it is referred to by the authors of a website on this topic www.essentialaction.org/shell/issues.html, are a ruthless force that has been the cause of the horrible pain and suffering of the Ogoni. This military task force was sent to the region as permanent security. This group is suspected in the murders of two thousand people. Shell has admitted to paying the military to go into villages on more than one occasion. Each encounter resulted in the murders of many people, and the destruction of the villages as well as their vital crops. Two of the incidents involved a peaceful demonstration against the destruction of farmland to build pipelines, and a demonstration in one of the Ogoni villages.

To restore good public relations, and trust in the shell name will be no easy task. Had Shell contributed to the people as much as it contributed to the people, this would be an entirely different situation. Shell needs to step up and admit responsibility and be held accountable for their misdeeds in Ogoniland. There now needs to be some goodwill and generosity on the part of Shell. Shell will need to help the people it once mistreated. Instead of contributing to a brutal regime, there should be more contributions to help the people. The first thing that should be done is, power should be restored to the people. The brutal regime needs to go. With its significant political influence, Shell can easily start the chain reaction required for this to take place. Shell has to completely cut off, and stop financing this regime. Unless that is done, Shell will have an even more difficult time righting its many wrongs. The people of the entire country would greatly benefit from a new government. A new government run by the people would help to ensure these citizens would have a loud enough voice in how to effectively restore and rebuild their land. Shell should contribute heavily to Ogoniland, and give the Ogoni the means to rebuild. With the money it was once using to help finance a brutal regime, Shell can play a significant role in the restoration, and recovery of the Ogoni and their land. There is some acts that shell will never be able to undo.

Does ethics in business actually exist? In the case of The Royal Dutch/Shell lacked a corporate code of ethics. Shell conducted its business in Ogoni. "Royal Dutch/Shell reported revenues of $94 billion placing it tenth on Fortune's Global 500 list." (Lawrence, 1997). In spite of all of the money that Shell profited from, Ogoni did to receive any of the revenue from them. Royal Dutch/Shell only paid a small percentage of taxes, but that did not go to Ogoniland. It went to the political leaders there. "Shell has extracted $30 billion worth of oil in the last 30 years, yet the region lacks functional hospitals, roads, steady electricity, and pipe-born water." (Expose the Shell Game, 2001). Ogoni was one the poorest locations in Nigeria.

Shell is responsible for environmental pollution that they caused in Ogoni. "Spilled oil in Ogoniland continues to pollute and kill wildlife, marine life and fauna." (Expose the Shell Game, 2001) Of course Shell denies accusations that they are responsible for any of the environmental problems that Ogoni has. One of the worst environmental problems they had was gas flaring. "The flares produce large amounts of carbon dioxide and methane, both greenhouse gases and contributors to global warming." (Lawrence, 1997)

Practically every decision that Shell made was unethical. Shell worked along with Nigerian military and provided them with weapons. They formed a task force to stop any peaceful protest given by MOSOP. "The task force attacked 30 towns and villages, and they fired at random, destroyed and set fire to homes, killing, assaulting, raping, looting and extorting monies and food from Ogoni people" (Lawrence, 1997). They are responsible for over 2000 deaths and destroying 27 villages.

An organization was formed called the Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People (MOSOP). This organization was formed to fight for political autonomy and environmental protection. Ken Saro-Wawa was the president of MOSOP. 'MOSOP issued a demand

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