Press Release: Civil society proposes principles to guide the divestment of international oil companies who wish to exit from the Niger Delta.

International oil companies are selling their onshore assets to move offshore, or out of Nigeria altogether. The rate of divestment is accelerating, and there are widespread concerns that the Federal Government is not doing enough to ensure companies address their toxic legacies, and the challenges will worsen as a result. CSOs call on the Nigerian Government to adopt and implement principles that will ensure a responsible exit of international oil companies.
The principles address historic pollution, decaying infrastructure, and the triggers of conflict.

SDN and concerned civil society organizations today release ‘The National Principles for Responsible Petroleum Industry Divestment’ The Principles advocate for a more inclusive, transparent and sustainable process for managing divestment. They have been developed by Niger Delta civil society organisations and draw on extensive research on current divestment practices and the experiences of affected communities. International Oil Companies (IOCs) are divesting from onshore assets in the Niger Delta at an accelerated rate, without adequately addressing the enduring legacies of environmental pollution, social strife, and governance challenges resulting from their operations spanning the past six decades. Domestic Oil Companies (DOCs) are assuming control, frequently with diminished experience and resources and in a process that is non-transparent. Consequently, the challenges faced by communities are poised to persist, and avenues for seeking accountability and justice in international courts will be further limited.

SDN and numerous civil society organizations have sounded the alarm regarding the hazards associated with proceeding with the ongoing divestment without the requisite regulatory oversight. Previous research has emphasized the critical importance of a judicious and regulated approach to the evolving landscape of the oil and gas industry in the region.

Building upon these concerns, an international researcher, Prof. Rick Steiner of Alaska (USA), supported by the Center for Research on Multinational Corporations (SOMO), conducted a study on divestment and decommissioning in the Niger Delta. His findings are published today in the research report: “Just Transition: Reforming Oil Industry Divestment, Decommissioning & Abandonment in the Niger Delta, Nigeria.” Based on the recommendations of this report, and drawing on previous research, Niger Delta civil society organisations are publishing today ‘The National Principles for Responsible Oil Industry Divestment’ and advocating for transformative changes to render the divestment process inclusive, transparent and sustainable. The principles include: All oil industry divestment applications shall be publicly noticed at least 90 days prior to submission to the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN); The FGN shall confirm that the seller has informed the proposed buyer of all pollution events and other environmental liabilities within the OML area to be divested, including pending litigation, as part of the checklist for statutory consent to be granted for divestment (please click here for the full list of the principles).
These principles have been collectively reviewed, validated and endorsed by the following CSOs: Centre for Environment, Human Rights, and Development (CEHRD), Embasara Foundation, Environmental Rights Action (ERA)/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (FoEN), Ijaw Elders Forum, Ijaw Nation Forum, Ijaw Professionals Association, Natural Resource Governance Institute (NRGI), Social Action, Society for Women and Youth Affairs (SWAYA), Stakeholder Democracy Network (SDN), We the People (WTP), and Youth and Environment Advocacy Centre (YEAC)
These Principles listed can serve as a foundation for coordinated civil society advocacy. As concerned CSOs, we therefore, a) urge government entities, regulators, and IOCs to review the divestment process and consider adapting and adopting these principles in policies and regulations to formalise an improved process and b) urge the press to continue publishing stories on this topic to deepen public understanding.

Quotes from SDN

Indications already exist that the Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) performance of domestic companies may be inferior to that of IOCs. Urgent proactive measures are essential to safeguard communities in the Niger Delta and institute mechanisms for holding International Oil Companies (IOCs) accountable for their historical liabilities.


The Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) is currently overseeing divestments while reinforcing a commitment to the oil and gas sector. However, given the global shift away from fossil fuels, it is imperative to recognize the urgent necessity for devising strategies to manage the industry’s decline responsibly. These proposed principles offer the opportunity for improving the process.


Note to the Editor:
Media contact: Solace Ojotule Okeyi: Communications Officer, SDN

Click here to view the National Principles for Responsible Petroleum Industry Divestment.

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