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Shell Reopens Oil Facilities in Nigeria

THE NEW YORK TIMES: Shell Reopens Oil Facilities in Nigeria

Posted Tuesday 23 August 2005

By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Published: August 22, 2005

Filed at 12:58 p.m. ET

LAGOS, Nigeria (AP) — Royal Dutch Shell PLC has reopened two oil facilities producing nearly 40,000 barrels of crude a day after closing them last week amid a compensation dispute, a company spokeswoman said Monday. A lawyer said talks to resolve the dispute would resume.

Villagers demanding compensation for an oil spill and a fire nearly two years ago launched protests in mid-August that prompted Shell to close the facilities in the oil-rich Niger delta’s Obio-Akpor district.

Bernadette Cunnane, a Shell spokeswoman, said by telephone from London that the Agbada I flow station producing 14,000 barrels a day reopened Sunday while the Agbada II station, which produces 25,000 barrels daily, reopened early Monday.

Cunnane declined further comment. Aziboala Roberts, the lawyer representing the protesting communities, said both sides have agreed to resume negotiations for compensation demanded by five Obio-Akpor communities for the Dec. 2003 oil spill, which they say affected their streams and farmlands.

”As a sign of good faith the communities have agreed to lift the siege,” Roberts said by telephone from the oil industry center of Port Harcourt.

Roberts said Shell’s initial offer of a total sum of $938.60 for jointly owned community property remained unacceptable to the villagers.

Roberts said villagers were asking for $5 million, but said ”if Shell shows good faith they’re ready to be flexible.”

Shell officials have said the offer reflected oil industry standards in Nigeria.

Armed militants, protesters and oil thieves frequently target oil operations in the impoverished Niger delta, where locals accuse joint ventures run by the government and oil multinationals of cheating them out of the oil wealth pumped from their land and leaving them the ugly consequences: pollution and environmental degradation.

Nearly all of Nigeria’s 2.5 million barrels of daily exports are produced in the delta region.

Nigeria is Africa’s largest oil exporter and the fifth largest supplier of crude to the United States.

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