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The Wall Street Journal: Chevron Closes Facilities, Shell Evacuates Staff Amid Nigeria Unrest: "Chevron Corp. has shut down two oil flow stations and Royal Dutch Shell PLC has evacuated workers amid unrest in Nigeria's oil-rich delta, the companies said Friday.": Friday 23 Sept 2005

Associated Press
September 23, 2005 7:41 a.m.

LAGOS, Nigeria -- Chevron Corp. has shut down two oil flow stations and Royal Dutch Shell PLC has evacuated workers amid unrest in Nigeria's oil-rich delta, the companies said Friday.

"I can confirm that we shut down Robertkiri late yesterday, following information it was under imminent threat," said Chevron spokeswoman Edith Azinge in Lagos. She said Robertkiri usually produces 19,000 barrels a day.

A separatist militia group has threatened oil installations after the government arrested its leader and said it would charge him with treason, a capital offense. The group has given the government until Saturday to release its leader.

Nigeria is the world's eighth-largest oil exporter and the fifth main supplier to the U.S., with a daily total output of about 2.5 million barrels.

With the move at Robertkiri, Chevron has now shut off 17,000 barrels a day of oil due to unrest in the Niger delta. On Thursday, militia fighters disarmed security forces guarding Chevron's Idama oil platform, forcing the company to stop production of 8,000 barrels a day there.

A spokesman for Shell, which produces about half the oil pumped in Nigeria, said Friday that the company had evacuated staff from some platforms in the Niger delta, but that production has not been affected. Many of Shell's oil facilities can run without staff. The militia said Wednesday it had overrun four Shell platforms, which Shell would neither confirm nor deny.

Hundreds of police reinforcements have been sent to the delta.

"We will unleash upon the government and its cohorts, violence and mayhem never before reported in the history of the Nigerian state," said a statement from the Niger Delta People's Volunteer Force received by the Associated Press Friday.

The group is led by Moujahid Dokubo-Asari, who was arrested Tuesday and appeared Thursday before a court in the capital, Abuja. A judge ordered he remain detained for two weeks before formal charges are brought.

Mr. Dokubo-Asari says his Ijaw ethnic group and the other people of the Niger delta should break away from Nigeria and take control of the billions of dollars of oil flowing from their land.

Police said Mr. Dokubo-Asari was arrested because he had called for the breakup of Nigeria in an interview published in Nigeria's Daily Independent newspaper. His lawyer, Uche Okwukwu, was also arrested after going to Abuja to secure his release, said an attorney now representing both of them, Ariku Donalds.

Disputes over oil have been causing bloodshed for years in Nigeria.

In 1995, writer Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight other activists from his Ogoni tribe were executed under the brutal regime of then dictator Gen. Sani Abacha. They were hanged for the murder of four political rivals, but Mr. Saro-Wiwa's supporters say he was really targeted because he led protests against environmental damage by Shell.

In 2003, an ethnic revolt shut down 40% of Nigeria's oil output and killed at least 200. The following year, fighting involving the army and rival militias -- including Mr. Dokubo-Asari's supporters -- killed hundreds.

Human-rights activists in the delta say Mr. Dokubo-Asari's militia is a creature of the government, alleging it was funded and armed by regional officials of President Olusegun Obasanjo's ruling party to help rig 2003 polls.

Mr. Obasanjo won the polls. There were widespread allegations from foreign observers of rigging in the delta. Mr. Dokubo-Asari denies that he received any funding from the government.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press

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