Nigeria-Shell la rivolta continua

La lotta delle popolazioni del delta del Niger contro lo sfruttamento e la devastazione operata dalle compagnie petrolifere, ed in particolar modo dalla Shell, continua e si radicalizza.

Da circa una settimana la lotta contro i siti Shell si e' fatta nuovamente intensa. Pochi giorni fa giovani armati della comunita' Ijaw hanno occupato delle stazioni di pompaggio della compagnia richiedendo migliori servizi sociali per la regione.
I manifestanti hanno richiesto ai lavoratori stranieri di abbandonare le installazioni petrolifere della regione, perche' non sarebbe piu' stato possibile garantire la loro sicurezza. Nel frattempo sono anche stati sequestrati dai manifestanti due elicotteri della Shell.
L'occupazione delle stazioni rimarra tale fino a che non verranno accolte le richieste dei manifestanti.
Anche l'Agip, per gli stessi motivi, e' stata investita dalla rabbia dei manifestanti e afferma che sta perdendo, a causa delle lotte in atto, 150.000 barili al giorno.

Dear Shell campaigners,

Residents of the Niger River delta continue are continuing their actions
against Shell and other oil companies! The following three articles from
the Financial Times, Chicago Tribune and Newsday are about the uprisings.
We need to keep reminding the media of the immense influence Shell has on
the Nigerian government and challenge Shell's claims of goodwill in oil
producing regions. If Shell was sincerely outraged by the economic
injustices and distribution of oil fund  in these communities, it would it
would clean up its immense pollution COMPLETELY and it would demand
IMMEDIATE support for communities in oil producing regions.

Keep showing your solidarity with these incredibly brave residents who are
speaking out in the only way left to them!
Remember that November 10 is the third anniversary of the execution of Ken
Saro-Wiwa -- start planning now! Action suggestions will follow soon.

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Foreign workers urged to quit
Financial Times (London) October 13, 1998, Tuesday

Nigeria's enforced drop in oil output continued yesterday as protesters
called on foreign oil workers to
leave oil installations in the southern delta region. Armed youths from the
Ijaw community have
occupied pumping stations for the past week, demanding better social
services for the Niger River delta
and complaining it does not receive a fair share of the oil revenue.

Last week, Royal Dutch/Shell announced the shutdown of 15 flow stations.
This has cut its normal
850,000 b/d output by 378,000 barrels. Total Nigerian production by all
companies is about 2.3m b/d,
and accounts for 95 per cent of export earnings. Michael Holman, Africa

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Chicago Tribune, October 13, 1998
SECTION: NEWS; Pg. 15; ZONE: N; Around the world.

Youths who have attacked oil installations in southern Nigeria were
demanding foreign oil workers
 leave the area by Monday, a Lagos newspaper said.

A letter sent Sunday to foreign embassies urged them to ask their nationals
to leave, saying their
safety could no longer be guaranteed, the Vanguard newspaper reported.

The ethnic Ijaw youths also promised to step up activities against oil
companies and to "indefinitely"
sustain their occupation of oil stations until their demands are met.

The letter followed a week of angry protests by the Ijaw youths, who have
been attacking Shell Oil
sites in the Niger River delta region, trying to use Nigeria's dependence
on petroleum exports to force
the government to pay attention to their grievances.

Registration for next year's presidential vote began last week, and groups
in the region have been using
the occasion to draw attention to what they say is their exclusion from the
political process.

Shell was forced to send a notice Thursday to its crude buyers that it
could not guarantee availability
of crude because of "the shutdown of 378,000 barrels of crude production
from 15 flow stations."

On Wednesday, armed protesters seized two helicopters belonging to Shell
Petroleum Development Co.,
Shell's Nigerian joint venture, and took control of an oil rig.

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Newsday (New York, NY), October 13, 1998

Ogbia, Nigeria - Willie MacEfeli was a boy of 9 when strange men in hard
hats bored a 12,000-foot
hole into the mushy ground outside his village and began drawing oil from
it. He was too young to
comprehend the value of the strange black liquid but old enough to be
caught up in the hopes and
dreams that came with it.

There were thoughts of jobs, paved roads to link neighboring communities,
telephones, lights, hospitals,
schools and real houses to replace the muddy, damp huts where most people
lived, says MacEfeli, now
51 and the manager of the town of Ogbia's sole guest house and restaurant.

"We were all looking forward to some brighter days to come, but the
difference between now and the
way we were back then in the 50s isn't much," he said with a slight shrug
and sigh of resignation. "It
makes me angry, because I want to live well. I want my house to be like an

There still are no phone lines to connect Ogbia to anyplace on earth, nor
any paved streets. The only
link to neighboring villages is via dugout canoes rowed through the murky
swamps or by foot along
deeply rutted lanes that turn to goo during the nearly six-month rainy
season. The muddy banks of the
lagoon on which Ogbia is perched are strewn with garbage and reek of human

The closest city, Yenegoa, is a hair-raising 75-minute speedboat ride along
waterways that zigzag
through the dense, dark green forest past dozens of villages just like
Ogbia: primitive, isolated, utterly
impoverished and sitting atop fantastic riches.

Herein lies the great irony of Nigeria, a country both blessed and cursed
by the crude oil discovered
by Shell deep beneath a muddy field in Ogbia more than 40 years ago and now
pumped out of the
earth at a rate of 2 million barrels daily.

It has elevated Nigeria to the rank of the world's sixth-largest oil
producer, gained it entry to the elite
club of OPEC nations, and earned its government and the multinational oil
companies operating here
tens of billions of dollars.

At the same time, it has pitted communities and environmentalists against
the oil companies, the oil
companies against the government, and the government against critics who
dare question its role in the
rape of the country's wealth and resources.

In November, 1995, the issue caught world attention when the military
regime of Gen. Sani Abacha
executed the oil companies most prominent critic, Ken Saro-Wiwa, an
activist who accused the
government and Shell of allowing environmental devastation of the oil-rich
land occupied by his Ogoni
tribe and neglecting the needs of the people.

Three years later, both the oil companies and community leaders say
Saro-Wiwa's hanging forever
changed the way they are responding to a problem that had festered for

"Maybe somehow it put the fear of God in every-body," said Bobo Sofiri
Brown, a spokesman for Shell's
eastern division, which encompasses five Nigerian states and 52 oil fields
that pump about 408,000
barrels daily from a total of 442 wells.

"It strengthened us to do more, because the militant community outcry
focused more attention on local
conditions. It sent shockwaves through the entire Delta region, and we were
caught in those shock waves," he said.

The communities say the oil companies aren't doing nearly enough for them.
But the oil companies say
Nigerians should aim their anger at a corrupt system of government in which
successive military
dictators stuff their pockets with oil profits at the expense of regular
Nigerians such as those in Ogbia.

"This company pays quite a hefty tax to the government. It's the
responsibility of the government to
provide development," says Deirdre LaPin, who heads a Shell program
designed to mend relations with
oil communities through a variety of developmental projects, such as the
building of schools and clinics.
"Shell is not a donor, but in recent years it has had to become one."

Adds Chris Haynes, Shell's managing director for the eastern region, "The
debate is how much can and
should a company try to do. We're not a town planning authority."

Most of the public's anger is directed toward Shell because its operations
in Ogoni territory were
well-publicized during Saro-Wiwa's campaign, and because its nationwide
presence dwarfs that of the
other oil companies here: Mobil, Chevron, Elf, Texaco and Agip.

On top of Shell's eastern region operations, it has 35 oil stations farther
west. Depending on OPEC
production quotas, its total output accounts for as many as 830,000 barrels

In addition, Shell says it is an easier target than other companies because
it has no off-shore
operations, only inland wells and stations situated close to the villages
that feel cheated.

"We're on land, so we get all the flak," said Haynes.

But other companies are far from immune to the troubles, which have
escalated in frequency and
boldness since Saro-Wiwa's death and with Nigeria's continuing political
and economic turmoil. Oil
companies operating off-shore have had boats seized and crews held hostage
by groups of youths
armed with machetes and clubs and demanding ransoms to compensate them for
alleged oil spills. In
volatile Bayelsa state, where Ogbia is located and where 40 percent of
Nigeria's oil is produced, an
angry mob recently ransacked Agip's main base of operations.

Hijackings or hostage-takings have become almost daily occurrences in the
industry, Haynes said, and
the wild demands made indicate the growing level of anger and, perhaps,
desperation among the people
responsible for them. During the World Cup, villagers were seizing Shell
boats in the Delta regularly and
demanding to be taken to town to watch the latest matches. Recently, some
villagers demanded
compensation for roofs they say were blown off by Shell helicopters years

Most incidents end peacefully after negotiations involving community elders
and company officials, but
there is no sign of abating anger on the side of villagers, who want to
know why they aren't getting
jobs from the oil companies operating in their backyards, and why the
companies, which have provided
modern housing and schools for their own employees, can't do the same for

"The feeling of the people is that so much wealth has been taken away, and
they've been left with
no-thing," Chief Godwin Abel said as he showed a visitor around the old
Shell wells outside Ogbia.

"We believe we've been cheated," MacEfeli said. "They came, they took
everything, and they went

Shell's first well in Nigeria was drilled in June, 1956, and now sits idle
in a field in Ogbia. Nearby,
another idle well is surrounded by a pool of oily water, evidence, Abel
says, of leakage caused by
neglect of old equipment. Shell stopped pumping these wells years ago,
saying they were no longer
producing enough oil, but Ogbia residents suspect Shell is hoarding vast
reserves under their land and
waiting until tensions subside before they come back to pump them.

Such attitudes frustrate Shell officials, who say they've spent tens of
millions of dollars on oil
communities as part of the company's community development program. In the
past five years, LaPin
said, the company has built 256 schools, 69 hospitals and 28 town halls,
and completed scores of road,
agriculture and water purification projects.

"These are the types of development activities that a government normally
would undertake," she said,
adding that Shell had budgeted $ 50 million for the development program in

But Shell says its efforts are being undermined by militants who are
sabotaging its equipment to cause
oil spills and then demanding compensation from the company for
environmental damage. Of 130 spills
recorded in 1997, Shell says 54 were caused by sabotage, 23 by human error
and 53 by equipment
failures. But sabotage cases result in far greater spillage than human
error or equipment failures
because they tend to be more devastating - such as a huge hole drilled into
a pipeline - and because
they are kept hidden to ensure the spill is widespread and the cleanup
costly, said Hubert Nwokolo,
Shell's deputy manager in the region. A costly cleanup means money for the
villagers, Nwokolo
explained, because they refuse Shell access to the spill sites unless it
agrees to hire them for cleanup duties.

The economies of these villages are virtually nonexistent. Most people live
hand-to-mouth, subsisting
on what their small plots of land produce and on the fish they capture in
broad nets cast into the
lagoons. Youths complain that lucrative jobs with the oil companies are
denied them because of
discrimination against the ethnic minorities that live in the Delta and
because of cronyism in the
industry. Community leaders, however, deny the allegations of widespread
sabotage and say Shell and
other oil companies set the stage for environmental devastation years ago
by taking advantage of the
Nigerian government's lax standards and letting their equipment rot.

"The marine life is finished, destroyed. The oil - you can even smell it in
the bones of the fish," S.A.
Gbakumor, a local government official from Bayelsa state, said bitterly as
he waited to be taken to
where three Texaco boats were being held by angry villagers. Gbakumor said
he would attempt to
negotiate an end to the crisis but warned that such incidents will continue
until oil companies take on
 more responsibility for the communities where they operate.

"They're the people extracting the wealth," he said. "The government is not
developing the
communities, so who else do we hang onto?"

GRAPHIC: Newsday Photos / Tina Susman - 1) Gas pumps are empty in
located in an oil-rich
part of Nigeria. 2) Villagers in Ogbia, Nigeria, are angry their town is
underdeveloped, although Shell
has pumped oil there since 1956. 3) Newsday Photo/Tina Susman Chief Godwin
Abel at Shell's first
Nigerian oil well, now idle.

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Monica Wilson     Essential Action
P.O. Box 19405, Washington, DC 20036, 202.387.8030, 202.234.5176 (fax)



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============================================= BBC Thursday, October 8, 1998 Published at 22:50 GMT 23:50 UK Nigerian protesters seize Shell helicopters Nigeria is one of the world's biggest oil producers Oil giant Shell says it can no longer guarantee supplies of crude oil from Nigeria after armed protesters seized more than 10 stations, two helicopters and a drilling rig. The action has halted more than a fifth of the country's oil output of two million barrels per day. But the demonstrators, many of them ethnic Ijaws, have vowed to continue attacking Shell sites until they get a new local government. They say Nigeria's military government is siding with the rival Itsekiri group in the area. In the latest attacks the protesters seized two helicopters from a Shell-owned helipad in the oil rich Niger River delta. Demonstrators also took control of a nearby oil rig belonging to a foreign contractor working for the company. Armed youths had earlier seized more than 10 oil relay stations in the same region. [ image: The Ogoni tribe crisis came to a head with Ken Saro-Wiwa's execution in 1996] The protests are the first in several years to have had such a drastic effect on output. They are part of an upsurge in violence in the Niger Delta where impoverished communities are demanding a greater share of the oil wealth that accounts for more than 90% of Nigeria's export income. Youth groups say their action is aimed at the government and what they call their exclusion from their country's political process. Although rich in oil, the Niger River delta states are among the poorest and most neglected in Nigeria. Shell said it had informed buyers it could no longer guarantee availability ''because of the shutdown of 378,000 barrels per day of crude production from 15 flow stations.'' The protests started four days ago when large groups, armed with automatic weapons, began boarding the flow stations which pump oil to export terminals. Agip also targetted At least 500,000 barrels of oil a day is now being lost in Nigeria - one of the world's biggest oil-producing nations. Protesters have also targetted the oil company Agip which says it is losing 130,000 barrels a day. The BBC's correspondent in Lagos, Hilary Andersson, says many inhabitants of the densely-populated delta can see multi-million dollar oil installations from their makeshift homes where there is often no electricity or public water supply. Since a crisis involving the Ogoni tribe came to a head in 1996, when community leader Ken Saro-Wiwa was executed by the military government, the people of the delta have become more politicised and the security situation now is said to be out of hand. ** NOTICE: In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. **

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