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Shell drops Africa pipeline: Enviro costs too great

Chad's Communication Minister Mosuua Dago said that a decision by Royal Dutch/Shell Group and Elf Aquitaine to pull out of its oil extraction and pipeline project was both "unexpected and questionable". He said his government was considering legal action for breach of contract and wanted to ensure the project went ahead. Exxon and the World Bank are the other parties involved in the project, which plans to export oil from the land-locked African country via a pipeline through neighbouring Cameroon. RIC and other organisations have been involved in campaigns against the scheme, and the backdown by Shell and Elf confirms that you, dear reader, have the power to help stop environmentally destructive projects. Please keep responding to our action alerts! Continued pressure on the World Bank is now crucial.The following is a press release from the Rainforest Action Network. Link here to Action Alert.



"Based on its experience in Nigeria, Royal Dutch/Shell recognizes a bad situation when it sees one, and Elf Aquitaine will avoid becoming part of the tragedy. The human and environmental costs of proceeding with an oil  pipeline that cuts through the heart of Africa's rainforest are simply too  great. The question remains whether The World Bank and Exxon will see the  situation in a similar light."  - Erick Brownstein, African Rainforest Campaign

Initial reports explaining the decision of Royal Dutch/Shell and Elf  Aquitaine to withdraw from a pipeline project in Chad and Cameroon indicate  that environmental and political concerns may have been overwhelming. Yet  despite continued criticism from forest protection and human rights leaders  who question the project's environmental safeguards and see little benefit  for the local populations, The World Bank and Exxon have indicated they  hope to see the project continue.

Shell's announcement came on the eve of the fourth anniversary of the  execution of Nobel Prize nominee Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight others opposed to  Shell's operations in Nigeria. "Shell's withdrawal from Chad and Cameroon  is an eerie homage to Ken Saro-Wiwa," observed RAN's African Rainforest  campaigner Erick Brownstein. "Now it is up to The World Bank's James  Wolfensohn to live up to high expectations and determine whether this is  the right kind of project for U.S. tax dollars to fund."

The African Rainforest Pipeline project will slice through the heart of  pristine rainforests, and will put hundreds of millions of dollars into the  pockets of Exxon and two corrupt governments. Transparency International  recently rated Cameroon the world's most corrupt government for the second  year in a row, and southern Chad is so dangerous and politically unstable  that neither Amnesty International nor the US State Department was able to  visit and confirm the massacre of hundreds of people. A 1999 US State  Department report on Chad shows a government engaged in indiscriminate   human rights abuses.\

"Poverty in Chad and Cameroon is devastating and should be a concern for   all of civil society," said Brownstein, "but giving billions of dollars to  a huge oil company and to governments that are unable or unwilling to help   their people will only exacerbate the problem."

Source: Rainforest Action Network