Lagos – A group of Nigerian women in the country’s oil-rich south said on Friday they had blocked access to a Chevron natural gas pipeline to protest poor living conditions in their community.
Women from the Ugborodo community in Delta State want Chevron to provide access to electricity and address damage to the environment, community leader Thomas Ereyitomi said.
“They are not allowing access to the plant and to allow any form of operation to go on,” he said of the protesters.
“It is immoral for Chevron not to provide basic amenities in a community in which they operate and generate money.”
Chevron officials declined to comment, saying they would issue a statement later.
Ereyitomi did not provide the number of people taking part in the protest, but claimed that it involved all women from the community.
A similar protest last month was abandoned following a promise from the Delta State government to look into the community’s grievances.
“That meeting with the government failed and so the protest resumed on Monday,” Ereyitomi said.
He said government officials have invited representatives of the protesters to a meeting on Tuesday in Abuja, the nation’s capital.
“The outcome of that meeting will determine whether the protest will be indefinite or not,” he said.
In 2009, Chevron’s total daily production in Nigeria averaged 480 000 barrels of crude, 111 million cubic feet of natural gas and 3 000 barrels of liquefied petroleum gas.
Oil and gas operations in Nigeria are often disrupted by communities demanding jobs and a fairer distribution of industry revenue, as well as protests against environmental degradation.
Militants in the oil-rich Niger Delta have carried out dozens of attacks on petroleum installations, but an amnesty deal last year has led to a sharp decline in the unrest.
Nigeria is the world’s eighth largest oil exporter and a member of OPEC.
Itsekiri Women Invade $.8bn Chevron Facility in Delta
From Omon-Julius Onabu in Warri, 08.19.2010
Hundreds of protesters, made up of mostly women from the Itsekiri community of Ugborodo in Warri South-West Local Government Area of Delta State, yesterday invaded the Federal Government-owned $800 million gas facility located in the Escravos channel at Madangho.
The protesters told newsmen in Warri yesterday that they were forced to re-occupy the Chevron Tank Farm in the area in protest against the shabby treatment by Federal Government and the American oil giant, Chevron, which operates the facility.
The aggrieved people, who stressed that they were protesting ”criminal neglect of our community by Government and Chevron even in the face of palpable threat to our very existence as a people”, said that they had suspended occupation of the facility three weeks ago following assurances that they would be given audience appropriately.
They revealed that Delta State Governor, Dr Emmanuel Uduaghan, had met with their leaders and appealed to them to sheathe their swords, with a promise that the Federal Government and Chevron would soon dialogue with them on the critical issues.
However, after several weeks, there was no sign that the promised peace meeting of stakeholders would be summoned or convened, they said.
The protesters, who stressed that their action was neither politically motivated nor prompted by Governor Uduaghan because he is Itsekiri, said that they were outraged by the fact that the Ugborodo community was completely left out of the shore protection project recently advertised by the Ministry of Niger-Delta Affairs.
According to the Chairman, Ugborodo Community Trust Fund, Deacon Thomas Ereyetomi, the resumption of the protest was simply to send a signal to the government that the proposed meeting needs be held ”to address the issues of the total degradation and underdevelopment of the Ugborodo community.”
Ereytomi stated: ”We will no longer tolerate the act of criminal neglect and abandonment; because available records and statistics have shown that for more that 45 years since the emergence of the Okan Oilfield in 1963, Ugborodo has consistently produced above 250,000 barrels of crude oil per day to the nation’s economic growth. They noted that they would not be intimidated by the heavy security presence particularly around Chevron facilities in the area. ”We will continue to disrupt their activities and die with the Federal Government until they answer us”, they warned. ”Beside lack of electricity and other infrastructures, our community is being threatened by the harsh oceanic waves of the Atlantic Ocean and the daily crude oil and gas operational economic activities of the oil companies”, Mrs. Mary Olowu, a community woman leader cried. They said the protest would not abate until the government provided
electricity and award the contract for the shore protection of the community, adding that the community accounted for 32% of the oil and gas production in Delta State.
”We cannot continue to suffer oppression, suppression and marginalization. How can our community host the Chevron Tank Farm as well as Loading facility and provide the gas to power the nation’s economy, yet no concrete attempt is being made to step down power supply to the community?
”In less than three years from now the surging Atlantic Ocean would have wiped away our communities from the face of the earth and in spite of our crying out loudly everyday in the media to call the attention of the Federal Government to our plight, the Niger Delta Ministry did not deem it fit to include the Ugborodo shore protection project in the recently advertised job showing clearly that we are not part of the Nigerian project,” they added.
They therefore demanded the immediate engagement or a reputable and internationally competent dredging company to handle the shoreline protection and reclamation of Ode-Ugborodo community as well as the extension of electricity to Constain in Warri, saying that was a precondition for peace to reign in the area.
Meanwhile, the security Joint Task Force (JTF) has beefed up security around the facilities of CNL in the area in order to forestall any eventuality, including possible attack on major production and loading platforms situated within the Itsekiri communities.
THISDAY learnt that the JTF Sector 1 Commander, Col Jamil Sarham, took the measure following an emergency meeting with the JTF general Commander in the agency’s headquarters in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State.
This is spite of the observation that the protest had remained generally peaceful; despite warning by the women that the action could be extended to Chevron facilities outside the Ogborodo vicinity