The Financial Times pulled an Amnesty advert challenging Shell’s pollution in the Niger Delta today. The full page ad was due to appear the morning of Shell’s AGM, to contrast the company’s $9.8 billion profit with its role in causing Nigerian communities to drink polluted water, eat contaminated fish, farm on spoiled land, and breathe in air that stinks of oil and gas. The FT’s decision reminds of the power of both the oil majors to affect coverage and advertising in London’s main newspapers – in the past, the companies have had explicit policies of demanding to see critical coverage before publication, with the threat of cutting their adverts.
The Shell AGM saw a resolution pushed by PLATFORM, Greenpeace & FairPensions challenging the company’s tar sands plans in Canada and a spoof CSR release promising to “halt Nigerian offshore drilling” and “compensate local communities for past injuries”.
Amnesty also launched an online video focusing on Shell’s illegal practice of gas flaring (the burning of gas produced as part of oil extraction) in the same region: