The recurring protest against the activities of oil companies operating in the Nigeria Delta reared its ugly head as hundreds of host communities protesters stormed a crude oil flow station owned by Shell in the restive Niger Delta week end demanding jobs and infrastructure development. Host communities have had a running battle with Shell and other oil companies accusing them of neglect as their activities have desecrated the Niger Delta land causing much sufferings. Protest of this magnitude had in the past led to crude oil shut in and closure of terminals which had resulted in loss of revenue for the nation.
The environment in the Niger Delta has been neglected for several decades by oil firms and the much talked about diversification into agriculture will remain a mirage unless the environment is cleaned and restored. This is what we are telling them but they do not listen but we are praying that they will listen. And this is why Rivers has been at the forefront of addressing stakeholders on the need to save our environment and urging them not to cause any problem in the environment because we have had enough.’’ a community leader once said
The protesters at the weekend complained they were not benefiting from oil production in their area, a common refrain in the impoverished swampland that produces most of Nigeria’s oil. They also demanded an end to oil pollution in the area. Soldiers and security guards did not disperse the crowd as it entered the Belema Flow Station in Rivers State, which feeds oil into Shell’s Bonny export terminal.
But the army sent reinforcements after protesters said they would stay at the facility for two weeks.
“I am a graduate for about eight years without a job,” said Anthony Bouye, one of the protest leaders. “Shell won’t employ me despite us having so much wealth in our backyard.”.
It was not immediately clear whether there was any impact on oil production. While Bonny Light crude oil is currently under force majeure due to the closure of the Trans Niger Pipeline, exports have continued using a second pipeline, the Nembe Creek Trunk Link.
Militant attacks on oil facilities have largely stopped since the government started last year talks with community leaders to address grievances of poverty and lack of development in the neglected region. But protests still flare as locals complain they do not benefit from the energy wealth, the dominant source of Nigerian government revenue. Oil exports were scheduled to hit a 17-month high in August, but fell back under 2 million barrels per day (bpd) after Shell declared force majeure on Bonny light. Nigerian oil production fell to just over 1 million bpd at certain points last year but has recovered thanks to a steady decline in the number of attacks on pipelines.