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Reuters: Nigerian youths seize Shell equipment at oil spill

Tue Mar 13, 2007 2:44 PM BST

LAGOS, March 13 (Reuters) – Royal Dutch Shell (RDSa.L: Quote, Profile , Research) has gained access to the oil spill that forced it to close 187,000 barrels per day (bpd) output in Nigeria but had equipment seized by community youths, a company spokesman said on Tuesday.

The company is negotiating with youths in the Nembe Creek area of the Niger Delta to release the equipment and allow workers to carry out inspection and repairs to the trunk pipeline that feeds the Bonny export terminal.

“We got access but youths from the community seized our equipment and we are talking to them to get it back to work and conduct an investigation,” a Shell spokesman said.

It is unclear how long the investigation and repairs will take.

Before the outage in Nembe Creek, the Anglo-Dutch energy giant had shut in 600,000 bpd from oilfields in the western Niger Delta since February 2006 after a series of militant attacks on the oil industry.

Shell is Nigeria’s biggest operator, accounting for nearly half of the OPEC member’s total oil production.

Many communities in the volatile delta have long-standing disputes with oil multinationals and often try to exert pressure on them to provide jobs, contracts, facilities or pay compensation for pollution.

Many have private militias, some with loose connections to a militant movement fighting for more local control of the Niger Delta’s oil wealth.

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