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Independent Online (Africa): Nigerians take over Agip pumping station

October 30 2006 at 01:28AM  
By William Nsoyoh

Yenagoa, Nigeria – Protesters angry over a lack of jobs and aid took over an oil-pumping station run by Italian oil firm Agip in Nigeria’s volatile southern delta region, forcing the company to shut the flow of oil there, a Nigerian security official said on Sunday.

Scores of protesters from the Egbema-Ngalabiri community invaded Agip’s nearby Clough Creek facility just before midnight on Saturday and forced workers there to shut operations, Joshua Benamesia, a security aide of the Bayelsa state government in charge of the area, said. Agip is a subsidiary of Italian energy company, ENI SpA.

“They accuse Agip of not implementing an agreement to help provide their community with jobs and development projects,” Benamesia told reporters.

The official had no further information on whether the protesters were armed or if any hostages were seized.

Agip officials were not immediately available for comment and it was not clear how much oil had been shut off.

Over the last decade, villagers have often stormed oil facilities to protest against oil companies they accuse of taking wealth from their land and giving little back. Most of the seizures have ended peacefully.

Last week, a separate group of protesting villagers took over three Royal Dutch Shell PLC oil platforms in neighbouring Rivers State and have occupied them since Wednesday. They say they will not end their occupation of the facilities until their demands for aid are met.

After the Shell incident, Chevron shut its nearby Robertkiri installation as a precaution. The facility produces 16 000 barrels of crude daily and remains shut, company officials said.

Despite sitting atop much of Nigeria’s oil reserves, the inhabitants of the southern oil region remain among the most impoverished in the country. With little or no influence on the government, they frequently turn to oil companies who run joint ventures with the Nigerian state with demands for jobs, schools and electricity.

This year, armed militia groups who claim to be fighting for similar causes have increased attacks on oil installations and seized foreign oil workers as hostages either for ransom or to back demands for more local control of oil wealth. – Sapa-AP 

http://www.iol.co.za/index.php?set_id=1&click_id=86&art_id=qw1162156687965B252

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