ChinaView.cn: Shell has no case to answer in Nigerian standoff: company spokesman: Sunday 21 August 2005
LAGOS, Aug. 20 (Xinhuanet) -- As the standoff between the Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) and local communities in Nigeria's southern state of Rivers entered the fourth day, a Shell's spokesman said Saturday the company had no case to answer.
The six communities on Tuesday shut the company's flow stations in the area because of the unresolved issue of compensation and clean-up of the December 2003 spillage.
Explaining the circumstances that led to the impasse, SPDC's Corporate External Affairs Manager Donald Boham said the attitude of the communities and weather conditions were responsible for the delay in the resolution of the crisis.
The Shell spokesman said the initial cause of the spillage was accidental but the communities set fire on the spill.
"We set out to put out the fire and yet another fire broke out and after this was fought, we went for the assessment and cleaning of the spillage in April, 2004 which was disturbed again till February, 2005," he explained.
"These disturbances were due to sabotage, through deliberate setting of fire," he added.
He alleged that the communities clamped down on the flow stations on Tuesday less than 48 hours after Shell negotiated the deal for the spill clean up and open up dialogue on compensation.
Boham explained that the contractor was bought by the communities, saying "we are asking them to open the closed stations so that discussions for remediation which had already begun on Monday can recommence."
He stressed that the Shell "cannot negotiate under duress as that will be counter productive. Everything must be done with transparency." SPDC had awarded contract of 1.7 million US dollars to clean the spill and started paying compensation for collective community property such as shrines.
Shell is the biggest player in Nigeria's booming oil industry, accounting for almost half of the continent's top oil producer's daily exports of 2.5 million barrels. The shutdown of oil installations in Nigeria's south is common as locals feel alienated from their oil resources and accuse the government and oil companies of neglecting them in infrastructural development. End item
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