Protesters Besiege Nigerian Oil Platforms

Monday, December 6th 2004, 9:48 am
By: News On 6

LAGOS, Nigeria (AP) _ Hundreds of protesters have besieged two oil platforms run by Royal Dutch/Shell Group Cos. and ChevronTexaco Corp. in Nigeria's southern oil region, shutting down production of 90,000 barrels of oil a day, company officials said Monday.

The protesting villagers from Kula community, including men, women and children, invaded on Sunday two oil pumping facilities owned by Shell in the Ekulama oil fields and another belonging to ChevronTexaco at Robert-Kiri island in the swamps of the oil-rich delta. The villagers demanded to see top officials of both companies.

Shell pumps 70,000 barrels daily from the two facilities, while ChevronTexaco pumps 20,000 barrels daily from its own station.

Nigeria, at 2.5 million barrels a day, is Africa's leading oil exporter, the world's seventh-largest exporter, and the fifth-biggest source of U.S. oil imports.

A Shell spokesman in Lagos said the protesters have not made known their grievances but are blocking dozens of oil workers on the platforms from leaving. Representations have been sent to the villagers for negotiations, the spokesman said on condition of anonymity.

ChevronTexaco has reported the invasion to state authorities, spokesman Deji Haastrup said.

Oil operations in the restive Niger Delta are frequently disrupted by violence by aggrieved, impoverished communities that feel cheated out of the oil wealth pumped from their land. Nearly all of Nigeria's oil exports come from the delta.