As oil majors try to clean up their emissions — on paper — by selling off polluting assets like African oil wells, communities nearby are experiencing even greater pollution, the Washington Post reports. The locally-owned companies that take over the oil and gas operations are often less able to respond to crises and less responsive to international pressure for transparency and pollution reductions. This was the case in Nembe, Nigeria, where a formerly Shell-owned well sprayed oil from a leak for more than a month and has still not been cleaned up well over a year later.
The overall trend mirrors what is occurring in the U.S. Permian Basin as oil majors sell off their most polluting assets to smaller, more opaque firms often owned by private equity funds. Now, even with local firms running oil operations, the centuries-long pattern of extractive industries harming African communities continues. “We were excited to see our brothers in control,” Lambert Ogbari, a fisherman in the Nembe area of the Niger Delta, told the Post, referring to the 2015 purchase of Shell’s oil license by a Nigerian company. “We thought they would understand our needs. … But it has gone from bad to worse.” (Washington Post $)