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Nigeria to hand abandoned Shell fields to rival operator

Times Online
The Times
June 5, 2008

Nigeria to hand abandoned Shell fields to rival operator

Shell’s rocky relationship with Nigeria suffered a fresh blow last night when the Nigerian President said that oilfields abandoned by the group in the Niger Delta would be given to another company.

President Yar’Adua said that there had been a total loss of confidence between the oil major and the local population. Shell closed operations in the Ogoniland area 15 years ago after protests over pollution and a lack of development led by the Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People.

Mr Yar’Adua said that another operator “acceptable to the Ogonis” would take over the oilfields this year. “Nobody is to gain from the conflict and stalemate so this is the best solution,” he said. Shell had hoped to return to the area. A spokesman said that the company had not yet received any formal notification from the Nigerian Government and that he was unable to comment further.

— Robert Dudley, the chief executive of TNK-BP, the Anglo-Russian oil giant jointly owned by BP and a group of Russian billionaires, was summoned for questioning by the Russian interior ministry yesterday about alleged tax evasion, it was claimed last night.

The move raises new fears over Kremlin pressure on foreign investors, and follows demands from TNK-BP’s Russian shareholders for Mr Dudley to be removed as chief executive.

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