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AFP: Shell, no plans to leave Nigeria’s restive oil region

Reuters photo Shell in Nigeria

SHELL TO STAY: A Nigerian schoolboy walks past the logo of Dutch oil giant Shell near Warri in the volatile Niger-Delta region. Despite incessant attacks on its facilities and personnel by militants Shell is staying in the oil-rich region. (REUTERS)
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March 14, 2007: LAGOS, Nigeria —  Anglo-Dutch oil giant Shell said Wednesday it has no plans to leave Nigeria’s oil-rich but volatile Niger Delta, despite incessant attacks on its facilities and personnel by militants.

“Shell is here to stay,” the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) quoted the company’s deputy managing director, Dale Rollins, as saying in Port Harcourt, the capital of the oil-rich region.

He said the Niger Delta was “very important” to Shell and stressed that the company wanted to make the area better for the local people.

Rollins said indigenous contractors, especially those from host communities, would be given greater opportunity in project execution.

Shell is Nigeria’s major oil operator, accounting for around half of the country’s daily output of some 2.6 million barrels, but the unrest in the region is costing the company some 477,000 barrels per day.

Since January 2006, separatist groups seeking a larger share of Nigeria’s oil wealth have renewed their violence against oil firms, personnel, and related business interests in the region.

This year alone, a total of 58 foreigners, most but not all of them with connections to the oil industry, have been abducted. That is almost as many as for the whole of 2006.

Three foreigners – two Italians and a French oil worker – are still being held by militants in the region.

The separatist groups on several occasions have advised all foreigners to leave the region and say their aim is to halt oil production.

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