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UpstreamOnline: Ogoni protest aimed at Shell

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By Upstream staff

Hundreds of villagers in the Ogoni area of Nigeria’s oil producing Niger Delta staged a protest against Shell after a rights group accused the firm of trying to resume operations without local consent.

Shell abandoned its oilfields in Ogoniland 15 years ago because of popular protests over pollution and a lack of development, but the area is still criss-crossed by pipelines.

Local rights group the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP), whose former leader Ken Saro-Wiwa was hanged by the then-military government in 1995, has accused the firm of trying to resume production without Ogoni agreement.

Reuters reported that demonstrators with placards bearing slogans such as “No to bloody oil business” and “Shell leave our lands” marched peacefully to a pipeline hub near the village of K-Dere and later dispersed without incident, witnesses said.

Protesters in the area attacked the pipeline – which feeds Shell’s Bonny export terminal – twice in May last year, forcing the company to halt up to 170,000 barrels per day.

Shell’s Nigerian arm SPDC said it had not returned to Ogoniland to resume oil or gas production, but rather to secure wells which had been dormant since it left the area in 1993.

“The permission for SPDC to commence the programme of securing wells in Ogoniland was given in the aftermath of a pipeline fire at K-Dere in early April 2006,” the company said in a statement.

“SPDC wishes to emphasise that the exercise to secure manifolds, wellheads and damaged pipelines is in the interest of safety of people and the environment, and does not in any way amount to a resumption of oil production in Ogoniland,” the company added.
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17 March 2008 18:04 GMT  | last updated: 17 March 2008 19:13 GMT

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