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Leave or die say protesters

mpa | 17.01.2006 15:22 | Ecology | Repression | Social Struggles | World

Protests escalate after decades of struggle in the face of Shell OIl...

Four foreign oil workers who were kidnapped by militant protesters in the Niger Delta last week were allowed yesterday to phone Reuters news agency. Along with passing on messages to their families, they also read out the demands of the protesters.

Today is the seventh day of their captivity. They where taken hostage during a series of attacks on oil pipelines and facilities belonging to Shell Oil. The effect has been to help drive up world prices and force Shell to evacuate over 300 members of staff from three oil platforms. Apparently they are considering more withdrawals amid fears over where the protesters will strike next.

The four hostages included an American, a Bulgarian, a Honduran and a British man who is believed to be a mercenary working for Shell. They said in what appeared to be a prepared statement that had been treated well, but any attempted rescue would cost them their lives.

"I'd like to contact my family and let them know that I am alright and everything with us is good," said the Honduran who identified himself as Harry Ebanks. "The only thing, the environment is not good with us because there is a lot of mosquitoes and it is dangerous for us."

The Briton, an ex-military man who identified himself as Nigel Watson-Clark, read out a list of five demands from the protesters who are part of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta.

"The Nigerian government should not make any military intervention. They should not make any attempt to rescue us as it has been made clear that it may result in the loss of our lives," he said.

The America, Patrick Landry, repeated, "No military intervention is a must. This climate in the conditions we're in is not conducive to us." He added: "I'd like y'all to contact my family and let them know that I'm alright, these people are treating me good, but the climate is not what it should be."

After years of demonstrations and repression, the protesters have vowed to stop all oil exports from Nigeria and advised workers to leave the delta or die. They have demanded local control of the Niger Delta's oil wealth and say that a payment of $1.5 billion should be made by Shell to the Bayelsa state government to compensate for pollution. They are also seeking the release of three political prisoners.

"If the Nigerian government does not meet these demands in 48 hours, whatever happens is in their own doing," said the Briton and pleaded for the British government to put pressure on Nigeria officials to negotiate.

Eight protesters were killed in a gun fight during an action against a Shell platform on Sunday. The attacks last week cut Shell's Nigerian oil output by 10%. The possibility of a major Shell pullout will increase the pressure on Negerias president, Olusegun Obasanjo's, to crack down harder on the protesters.

Crude oil prices spiked past $65, up $1.35 to $65.27 a barrel by afternoon trading amid fear over US and EU action against Iran, along with the Shells problems in Nigeria. Natural gas and heating oil also rose.

The Niger Delta accounts for almost all of Nigeria's 2.4 million barrels a day oil production and is the fifth-biggest source of U.S. oil imports. Around 20 million people live in the region in abject poverty surrounded by the pollution and gas flares of Shells multibillion-dollar oil industry.

Since officially being given independence from Britain in 1960, continued colonial style exploitation continued under the hands of successive military dictators happy to sell out their country for personal wealth from the likes of Shell.

Meanwhile, the International Energy Agency said today that global energy demand is expected to grow by massive 2.2 percent this year (up also .5% on previous years). Led by the U.S.A. and increasingly China (with around 7% growth in December), world's energy consumption tops over 85 million barrels a day, that is up almost 2 million barrels a day since last year.



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Oil goes higher still, topping $66 before end of trading

17.01.2006 20:30

Oil surpassed $66 a barrel in New York by the end of todays trading on concern about Iranian and Nigerian shipments. Together Iran and Nigeria produce about 7.5% of the world's oil.

Crude oil for February delivery jumped $2.38, or 3.7 percent, to $66.30 a barrel at the 2:30 p.m. close of floor trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Futures reached $66.40, the highest since Oct. 3. Prices are up 37 percent from a year ago. At this rate it might soon reach the record of $70.85 a barrel set last August the day after Hurricane Katrina struck the U.S. Gulf of Mexico coast.

The world's biggest oil exporter Saudi Arabia is a so-called 'swing' producer. It claims to have 1.3 million barrels a day of spare production capacity - although many people doubt this to be true. Other members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, excluding Iran, Nigeria and Iraq, have less than 300,000 barrels of spare capacity together.

"The threats remind us of how tight the supply-demand balance is,'' said John Kilduff, vice-president of risk management at Fimat USA in New York. "These threats can't be dealt with; there just isn't enough spare capacity, so prices are moving higher and will continue to do so.''

"The Iranians know they hold high cards because of oil,'' Daniel Yergin, chairman of Cambridge Energy Research Associates, said on CNBC today.

Oil prices more than doubled in 1979 after a revolution in Iran slashed the nation's oil exports. By 1981 U.S. refiners were paying an average $35.24 a barrel, according to Energy Department figures, or $75.44 in 2005 dollars. The Strait of Hormuz is the world's most important oil transit chokepoint. The strait, which lies between Iran and Oman, controls access to the Persian Gulf. Between 16.5 million and 17 million barrels of oil a day moved through the strait in 2004, according to the U.S. Energy Department.

Time to fix your bike

demands and pics

17.01.2006 21:21

* Local control of the region's oil wealth
* The payment of $1.5bn by Shell to Bayelsa State to compensate for pollution
* The release of separatist leader Mujahid Dokubu Asari, being held on treason charges
* The release of former Bayelsa State governor Diepreye Alamieyaseigha, accused of corruption and money-laundering
* The release of another ethnic Ijaw militant.

pictures on bbc site of these heros


More armed resistance

18.01.2006 13:22

The Nigerian protesters are claiming more actions although the companies involved are denying it (which reminds me of the GM crop trashing actions denied by the likes of Monsanto to avoid the fact that their research was destroyed).

The continuing tensions in the delta have pushed up oil prices to over $67 a barrel.

The group, which seeks justice on the issues of Nigerian natural resources, says that it attacked platforms run by the Total and Agip. The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, said its ultimate aim was "to prevent Nigeria from exporting oil".

"We will attack all oil companies, including Chevron facilities," it said. "Pipelines, loading points, export tankers, tank farms, refined petroleum depots, landing strips and residences of employees of these companies can expect to be attacked."

"We know where they live, shop and where the children go to school," they added ominously .

The oil companies involved have not commented on rumors that they would like to place an ASBO on the protesters and seek an injunction to prevent further actions. While that might be what they would do in the case of protests in the nice safe UK, in the rest of the world it is likely that they will simply hire more mercenaries and attempt to use fear and corrupt 'officials' to quell the resistance.

(is this glorifying terrorism?)