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MarketWatch: Shell, UN to spend $18M on development in Niger Delta

Last Update: 3:06 PM ET Aug 24, 2006

PORT HARCOURT, Nigeria (MarketWatch) — Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria, a unit of Royal Dutch Shell PLC (RDSB.LN), and the United Nations Development Program will spend $18 million on a development program in the Niger Delta, the unit’s chief executive said Thursday.

Shell will contribute $14 million out of the total, Basil Omiyi said at the start of a two-day conference on development in the region.

The conference is a follow-up to the launch last month of a report on development in the Niger Delta, which found that the quality of development there lagged behind that in similar regions with oil and gas resources.

The $18 million will be spent over a five-year period that started in 2005, Omiyi said.
Omiyi said the partnership is aimed at improving livelihoods across the Niger Delta, where poverty has persisted – and even deepened- in spite of the abundant resources there.

He said the degree of challenges in the region makes such a partnership in imperative, if good results were to be achieved.

“While we recognize the enormous potential of this partnership with respect to moving the regional development process forward, we are also aware of the fact that our achievement would be grossly limited without the active support of other stakeholders,” he said.

He said main goals of the program are poverty reduction through improved local governance and empowerment of women and children in the region, and preservation of the environment.

The program also aims at reducing the incidence of HIV/AIDS in the region. A report by the UNDP on the Niger Delta, says that the incidence of HIV/AIDS in the region is higher than the average rate in Nigeria.

The report recommended a seven-point agenda for the development of the Niger Delta as a means of solving the conflicts in the region, which now threaten Nigeria’s oil and gas operations.

Protests by aggrieved communities have often disrupted oil and gas operations in the Delta. Currently, attacks by militant groups have led to a shut-in of about 600,000 barrels a day of crude oil.

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