A London-based pressure group, Platform, has stated that Royal Dutch Shell spent almost 40 per cent of its $1 billion global security budget between 2007 and 2009 in Nigeria, with a large chunk of the money going to the country's security forces which it described as corrupt.
Quoting a Shell document leaked to it, the London-based body monitoring the oil and gas industry said the oil major spent $383 million protecting its staff and assets in the Niger Delta during the three-year militancy period.
With a focus on the social, economic and environmental impacts of the global oil industry, Platform said it has a number of experts to speak on issues including oil interests in Middle East and North Africa (MENA) countries, Shell, BP, and the Niger Delta.
"Shell paid many millions of dollars to government forces with a track record for corruption and creating instability across Nigeria," Platform's Ben Amunwa said.
Shell did not confirm the figures but said it had to spend heavily because of the security threats.
However, a Shell Nigeria's spokesman, Mr. Precious Okolobo, said in the period being referred to, the armed militancy in the Niger Delta was at its height, requiring a relatively high level of security spending.
"We have always acknowledged the difficulties of working in countries like Nigeria. Protecting our people and our assets is Shell's highest priority," Okolobo told Reuters.
Shell had stated that 150,000 barrels per day (bpd) is still being stolen by gangs who tap into pipelines and siphon off oil, some of which is sold into international markets.
But the funding of Nigerian police and military by Shell has brought criticism from rights groups, who have also attacked its lack of progress on cleaning up decades of oil spills.
"While primary responsibility for human rights abuses lies with the Nigerian government and other perpetrators, Shell bears a heavy responsibility for the devastating social impacts of its security spending," Amunwa added.
Shell's relationship with the federal authorities attracted local and international condemnation in 1995, when the then military government hanged environmental activist, Mr. Ken Saro-Wiwa, two years after his campaign forced the oil company out of Ogoniland in Rivers State.