Erinys Security Consulting and Training Support to a major international oil company operating in the Niger Delta 2006-2009

The Niger Delta is a very difficult oil producing area where, as a result of many years of deteriorating relations between the local communities and the oil industry, the oil companies have in some cases lost their social licence to operate.

The situation has been compounded by political interest and leverage by groups such as MEND (Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta), other armed militants, bunkering (industrial-scale theft of oil from the pipeline systems), patchy performance by the Nigerian Joint Task Force, particularly in relation to human rights, and a legacy of mismanagement of relations with local communities, underpinned by environmental damage and corruption.

Our client is a joint venture between a major international oil company and the Nigerian Federal Government. As the joint venture operating partner, our client manages the oil and gas production output from an extensive pipeline network in the Niger Delta.

In late October 2005, Erinys was tasked to provide consultancy support to our client’s Pipeline Department - responsible for the pipeline network within our client’s footprint, including its security, indigenous communities, and inherent and associated issues such as spillages and environmental damage. Erinys consultants supported our client until February 2009 on a number of corporate programmes which attempted to tackle the causes of the operating problems rather than deal piecemeal with the many consequences.
Erinys consultants were pivotal in developing and implementing a number of sustainable processes and outcomes.

All these solutions required an integrated approach across the business to coordinate an efficient and economic re-engagement with local communities through a raft of stake-holder entities. This integrated and sustainable approach was the only viable long term strategy to reverse the negative trends which have characterised oil production in this area of the Niger Delta for many years.

During the contract period, Erinys consultants supported a variety of individuals (Executive VP, VP Production and MD) as well as numerous client departments. The show case corporate project was a pragmatic manifestation of a comprehensive and sustainable approach to tackling the causes of the root problem. In terms of scale, one element of this project was community surveillance and, during the course of the consultancy, Erinys established and managed activities and modules which trained in excess of 3,500 personnel. This is just one example of providing opportunity to local communities to manage the security of pipeline systems within their community footprint.

In addition to using community based surveillance, Erinys consultants also applied a number of other conflict resolution tools under a ‘Licence to Operate’ mandate. These included:

• Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR).
• Mediation and reconciliation.
• Conflict management.
• Community relations and support for development.
• Surveillance and information sharing.
• Resolution of legacy issues and associated compensation.
• Teams to address issues surrounding spills and blockades.
• Agro-economics.
• Micro-finance.
• Business co-operation and development of trading co-operatives.
• Public relations and perception management.

The application of what are regarded as ‘softer’ security tools can be applied in all environments in conjunction with ‘harder’ security measures as necessary. What remains essential, and what Erinys has first-hand experience in, is delivering practical solutions in difficult environments based upon sound conflict resolution principals, the appropriate engagement at all levels and realistic and sustainable local stake-holding.

The Erinys approach had a significant effect in the project area and resulted in significant reduction in bunkering and sabotage activity.