21 August 2017

Nigeria: Shell Warns Nigerian Protesters Risks Health Hazard At Occupied Plant

Royal Dutch Shell has warned protesters from the Kula and Belema communities in Rivers State of the hazards they are exposing themselves to as a result of their siege at a Nigerian facility.

Reports from AFP news agency indicates that hundreds of protesters from the two communities have occupied the plant since August 11 to press their demands for jobs and better living conditions.

In a statement, Sunday, the Company's Nigerian subsidiary, Shell Petroleum Development Company, said the occupation exposes people at the plant to higher safety risks adding that this could trigger a spill or fire with potentially serious consequences.

"The illegal occupation of Belema Flow Station and Gas Plant in Rivers State has safety implications both for the people at the facilities and nearby communities," it said.

The company also expressed its concern that "unauthorised persons, including women and children, have been observed in close proximity to equipment that processed crude oil and gas without the protection of safety clothing."

Shell has said it had not been able to gain access to the plant since the seizure and called on the protesters to leave.

The plant transports crude oil to the Bonny Light export terminal, which exports about 225,000 barrels per day.

The protesters from the communities said they want Shell to shift the plant's operation base to a local company.

"We want Shell to hand over the operations of the flow station to Belema Oil Company because it appreciates our challenges and needs," community leader Godson Egbelekro told AFP.

In 1993, Shell was forced to quit operation in Ogoniland as a result of community unrest, but the company still runs a network of pipelines in the area.

Nigeria, Africa's biggest oil producer with some two million barrels per day, depends on the sector for 90 per cent of foreign exchange earnings and 70 per cent of government revenue.

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