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Shell, Nigeria and the Ogoni. A study in unsustainable development: I. The story of Shell, Nigeria and the Ogoni people - environment, economy, relationships: conflict and prospects for resolution


  • Richard Boele

    (Kingston University, UK)

  • Heike Fabig

    (Sussex University, UK)

  • David Wheeler

    (York University, Canada)


The Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) and its joint-venture partners - particularly the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation - have earned billions of dollars from the oil extracted from the land of the Ogoni in the Niger Delta. The Ogoni however complain that they have not seen adequate benefits; rather the oil has cost them dearly in terms of a deteriorating environment and underdevelopment and mobilized a successful national and international campaign against the Nigerian government and Shell. Despite the avowed non-violent nature of the campaign, military repression resulted in thousands of Ogoni killed, raped, beaten, detained and exiled and the main leaders executed. Under pressure from the Ogoni, Shell was forced to pull out from Ogoniland in 1993. Since then, Shell International has re-invented its corporate strategy in line with principles of sustainable development and it has committed itself to a level of stakeholder engagement on its environmental and social performance which would have been unthinkable in 1995. So for Shell, a return to Ogoni would be a powerful symbol that their corporate commitment to being a socially responsible company is being translated into action on the ground. However, there is still little trust between the company and the Ogoni people and their representative organization, the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP). Many of the issues raised by the Ogoni (such as the need for locally sustainable development, distribution of oil wealth, community projects and environmental issues) have yet to be addressed. This paper is the first of a trilogy examining the issues, relationships, management and strategic implications of the case. Copyright © 2001 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd and ERP Environment

Suggested Citation

  • Richard Boele & Heike Fabig & David Wheeler, 2001. "Shell, Nigeria and the Ogoni. A study in unsustainable development: I. The story of Shell, Nigeria and the Ogoni people - environment, economy, relationships: conflict and prospects for resolution," Sustainable Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 9(2), pages 74-86.
  • Handle: RePEc:wly:sustdv:v:9:y:2001:i:2:p:74-86
    DOI: 10.1002/sd.161

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    Cited by:

    1. Rüdiger Hahn & Regina Lülfs, 2014. "Legitimizing Negative Aspects in GRI-Oriented Sustainability Reporting: A Qualitative Analysis of Corporate Disclosure Strategies," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 123(3), pages 401-420, September.
    2. Prošková Anna, 2015. "Embracing Sustainable Development Is An Ethical Decision," CRIS - Bulletin of the Centre for Research and Interdisciplinary Study, De Gruyter Open, vol. 2015(1), pages 61-65, January.
    3. Christof Miska & Christian Hilbe & Susanne Mayer, 2014. "Reconciling Different Views on Responsible Leadership: A Rationality-Based Approach," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 125(2), pages 349-360, December.

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