THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: Shell Tries To Evacuate Oil Workers As Protests Continue: “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.” (ShellNews.net) 7 Dec 04
DOW JONES NEWSWIRES
December 7, 2004 7:10 a.m.
LAGOS (AP)--Oil giant Royal Dutch/Shell (RD) was negotiating Tuesday to evacuate 75 oil workers trapped in two different oil platforms as sieges by protesters continued for a third day, company officials said.
Hundreds of protesting villagers from Kula community, including women and children, Sunday invaded two oil pumping facilities owned by Shell in the Ekulama oil fields and another belonging to ChevronTexaco (CVX) at Robert-Kiri Island in the swamps of southeast Nigeria's oil-rich delta.
They were blocking some 90,000 barrels of crude from being pumped each day to press demands for jobs and other benefits.
The protesters have occupied boat jetties and helicopter pads preventing more than 100 oil workers from using the only means of leaving the delta, where nearly all of Nigeria's 2.5 million barrels a day of oil exports are produced.
A Shell spokesman in Lagos said evacuating the workers was the top priority.
ChevronTexaco officials in Nigeria weren't immediately available for comment.
Protest leaders and officials of the two oil multinationals met Monday with a representative of the Rivers state government Peter Odili, who is responsible for the area, in the capital Port Harcourt.
They agreed to set up a committee to consider the villagers' demands within three days, Rivers state spokesman Emmanuel Okah said. The committee was asked to determine when the protesters should leave the oil platforms, he added.
Most of the protesters left the two Shell facilities - which normally pump a combined 70,000 barrels of crude daily - Monday, leaving behind about 20 people to ensure they were not reopened, the company spokesman said. The ChevronTexaco facility pumps 20,000 barrels a day.
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.