By Christian Moess Laursen

Amnesty International and others called on Nigeria's government to reject Shell's proposed sale of its Nigerian onshore oil subsidiary to guarantee rights of local communities.

"Shell shouldn't be permitted to use legal gymnastics to escape its responsibilities for cleaning up its widespread legacy of pollution," an open letter released Monday, signed by Amnesty and forty other Nigerian and international non-governmental organizations, said.

The organizations said there's a major risk that the acquiring companies will disappear, leaving affected local communities with no entity to deal with over pollution, decommissioning and other issues.

Shell's previous divestments in the country were completed without adequate safeguards to protect Nigerians from harm and the government from financial liability, the letter said.

A sale shouldn't be permitted before consultations with local communities, a full assessment of the environmental pollution caused to date by Shell's assets, and a guarantee that clean-up costs will be covered, it said.

The British energy heavyweight agreed in January to sell the onshore assets to a consortium of Nigerian companies for up to $2.4 billion, in line with its intent to focus future investment in Nigeria on deepwater and integrated gas.

When approached for comment about the letter, Shell's spokesman directed Dow Jones Newswires to its statements at the time, saying that deal seeks to ensure the company continues to have a positive impact on the local communities.

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(END) Dow Jones Newswires

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