By Anamesere Igboeroteonwu and Libby George
ONITSHA/LONDON, Nigeria Nov 9 (Reuters) – Royal Dutch Shell has shut down an Escravos crude oil flow station in Nigeria’s Niger Delta after villagers demanding aid staged a protest, the firm and residents said on Wednesday.
The oil major said the flow station on the pipeline operated by its joint-venture partner SPDC was no longer processing crude oil, but the impact on Escravos exports, which can run via other avenues, was not immediately clear.
Shyne Edema, a protest leader, said his group was demonstrating at the facility, shutting down power and water supplies as well as crude production to press Shell into providing community development funds, a common refrain in the neglected region which provides much of Nigeria’s oil output.
“Today is the eighth day of the protest,” he said. “We have laid siege at the facility from dusk to dawn since then. We are there now as I speak.”
He said the protesters complained about Shell’s “neglect of its social responsibility of providing good roads, water and electricity for its host communities where none of these things exist.”
Shell said it was “engaging” the Delta state government and community leaders too discuss the grievances and an ongoing power project for the area.
“SPDC provides power to Ugborodo communities through company-maintained diesel generating sets, pending the completion of the electricity project for the communities,” Shell said. Oil firms spend funds on the development of host communities but impoverished villagers say this is just a drop in the ocean.
Demanding a greater share of oil revenues in the Niger Delta region, militants have made a number of attacks on crude and gas pipelines this year.
Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari met last week with community leaders and representatives of militants to end the attacks and address complaints of poverty from residents but no lasting ceasefire has been reached.
An attack last week forced the closure of the Trans Forcados Pipeline, cutting the OPEC member’s oil production by at least 200,000 barrels per day.
Oil Minister Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu before last week’s attack said oil output had risen to 2.1 million barrels a day. Before that, a wave of attacks had led production to plunge to just 1.37 million barrels per day in May, the lowest level since July 1988, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA), from 2.2 million barrels in January 2016.
Any ceasefire agreement would be difficult to enforce as the militants are splintered into small groups of angry, young unemployed men whom even their leaders struggle to control. (Reporting by Libby George, Anamesere Igboeroteonwu, Ulf Laessing and Alexis Akwagyiram; Editing by Greg Mahlich and David Evans)
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