Nigerians Seize Shell Oil Stations
LAGOS, Nigeria (AP) _ Anti-government protesters took control of nine Shell Oil relay stations in southern Nigeria, halting the transfer of some 250,000 barrels of crude a day, company authorities confirmed today.
Young demonstrators angry at preparations for elections seized the facilities in several areas over the past few days, Shell Nigeria Managing Director Ron Van Den Berg told the Lagos-based Tribune newspaper.
Voter registration for next year’s presidential elections began this week, and youth groups in the oil-rich Niger River delta region have been using the occasion to protest what they say is their exclusion from the political process.
Shell’s Nigerian joint venture, the Shell Petroleum Development Corporation, has appealed to Nigeria’s military government to settle the dispute and allow the company to resume normal operations.
Shell officials in Nembe district in southern Nigeria’s Delta state said demonstrators attacked four flow stations over the weekend and forced employees to evacuate.
On Saturday, another group of protesters forced the closure of Shell flow station facilities in the Odeama Creek area. Three company boats were also seized along with 12 crew members, the company reported.
Further west in the same state, members of the Ijaw ethnic group threatened to attack several Shell facilities, forcing the withdrawal of workers and the shutdown of at least four other flow stations.
Nigeria, Africa’s largest oil exporter, is heavily dependent on the petroleum industry. Shell and other foreign oil firms are often targeted for protests as a way of drawing government attention to their causes.