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Nigerian youths halt some crude output in Nembe oilfield

By The Rainbow
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Nigerian protesters shut down crude oil production at two flow stations of the Nembe oilfield in Bayelsa state on Friday over what they said was the sell-off of the region’s energy wealth without the approval of its inhabitants.

The protesters, mostly young men with some women, arrived in about 30 speedboats and climbed the fence at one station with no resistance, and dodged security at the other, both of the facilities are located in creeks in the Niger Delta region.

Output ceased at 10 a.m. (0900 GMT) though the extent of the stoppage was not yet clear.

Oil traders said the protest had no immediate market impact given an existing oversupply of June-loading cargoes of Nigerian crude. At least 15 million barrels of crude in Africa’s largest energy producer remains unsold.

Resentment of oil production in the Delta, in the southeast of Nigeria, goes back decades because of the devastation wrought by frequent oil spills and the relative lack of development benefiting impoverished local communities.

Discontent led to the rise of militant Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, which became notorious for kidnapping foreign oil workers and attacking oil installations until a 2009 amnesty.

Royal Dutch Shell Plc sold its operating stake in OML (oil mining license) 29 and the accompanying Nembe Creek trunkline in late March to Aiteo Eastern E&P Co for about $1.7 billion.

The license includes three sets of oilfields – Nembe, Santa Barbara and Okoraba. Shell said combined production averaged around 43,000 barrels per day of oil equivalent in 2014.

A spokesman for Shell said he could not immediately comment and Aiteo could not immediately be reached.

Protesters on Friday held up placards reading, “Sale of our wealth by Shell is theft against mankind”, “We are angry” and “Nembe people reject sale of oil field”.

Chief Nengi James, chairman of the Nembe Oil and Gas Committee that liaises with oil firms in the area and supported the protest, called the sale “clandestine and criminal” because local communities were not involved.

He said inhabitants were concerned that a memorandum of understanding forged with Shell to develop local infrastructure would not be honoured.

“We have shut down Nembe 1 and 2…as directed by the community council of chiefs,” the committee’s youth leader, Jonathan Omungo, said.

Outgoing President Goodluck Jonathan was seen as effective in keeping the ex-militants at bay, being from Bayelsa himself. All eyes are now on how northerner Muhammadu Buhari will appease the area when he comes into power on May 29.Reuters

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