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Chevron's Nigeria Pipeline Under Investigation

Posted Oct. 29, 2008 / Posted by: admin

For Immediate Release

For more information contact:
Nick Berning, 202-222-0748

LAGOS (NIGERIA) / WASHINGTON DC (US) -- An official inspection will begin on July 15 on the West-African Gas Pipeline, a project led by U.S. oil giant Chevron with support from the World Bank.

Twelve Nigerian communities formally asked the World Bank for the inspection because of grievances related to the project's social and environmental impacts and safety concerns.

The pipeline inspection comes a week after the announcement of a UK Parliamentary investigation into the World Bank's effectiveness, particularly the question of whether the UK's "priorities in specific policy areas, particularly climate change, can be pursued effectively through World Bank funding."

The World Bank's Inspection Panel said it will investigate "conflicting assertions" by the 12 communities and World Bank officials about potential negative effects from the pipeline, including the "cause of pollution ... and alleged damage to fisheries, serious concerns regarding the valuation of assets and procedures for compensation, and a lack of information regarding the implementation of the project."

In a complaint the communities had submitted a little more then a year ago, the communities stated: "We believe that the West-African Gas Pipeline project, if executed as presently conceived, would do irreparable damage to the land and consequently, destroy the livelihoods of the 12 communities."

They raised concerns about the inadequacy of compensation paid to landowners, insufficient pipeline safety measures, lack of information about environmental impacts and the project's failure to make a meaningful contribution to gas flaring reduction.

"We are happy that our complaints will now be officially investigated. This project was supposed to help end gas flaring, which is a major cause of climate change and local health problems. However, to date we have seen no proof that flaring will stop," said Michael Karipko of ERA / Friends of the Earth Nigeria.

The Inspection Panel visit comes amidst growing instability in the Niger Delta, largely a result of local resentment against companies and government elites growing rich off oil and gas in the region, while communities suffer from health problems, persistent poverty, and widespread unemployment.

"The investigation should be a wake-up call for the World Bank about the disconnect between its projects and its commitments to combating climate change and increasing energy access for the poor," said Nikki Reisch of Bank Information Center. "Rather than helping companies expand their gas production in the Niger Delta, the World Bank should prioritize ending the wasteful and dangerous practice of gas flaring and supplying energy to local communities."

"All these investigations into the World Bank's work are a good thing," said Janneke Bruil of Friends of the Earth International. "The question on the table is whether the World Bank is the right institution to deal with development and climate change."

FOR MORE INFORMATION

Michael Karipko, Friends of the Earth Nigeria / ERA. Tel: + 234 803 552 6729 (Nigerian mobile number)
Janneke Bruil, Friends of the Earth International.Tel: +31-6- 52118998 (Dutch mobile number)
Nikki Reisch, Bank Information Center +1 202 624 0635 (Washington DC)

NOTES TO EDITORS:

A Friends of the Earth report on the pipeline is available here: http://www.foei.org/en/publications/pdfs/wagp-inet.pdf .

Inspection panel web site: Nigeria: West Africa Gas Pipeline Project (2006) is online: http://web.worldbank.org/WBSITE/EXTERNAL/EXTINSPECTIONPANEL/0,,contentMDK:20909274~menuPK:64129250~pagePK:64129751~piPK:64128378~theSitePK:380794,00.html .

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