Search  
Click Here!    
Good Morning America World News Tonight 20/20 Primetime Nightline WNN This Week
March 22, 2003
 
HOMEPAGE
NEWS SUMMARY
US
INTERNATIONAL
MONEYScope
WEATHER
LOCAL NEWS
ENTERTAINMENT
ESPN SPORTS
SCI / TECH
POLITICS
HEALTH
TRAVEL
FEATURED SERVICES
RELATIONSHIPS
SHOPPING
DOWNLOADS
WIRELESS
INTERACT
VIDEO & AUDIO
BOARDS
CHAT
NEWS ALERTS
CONTACT ABC
Great Skiing and Riding! (Ad Served by Mediaplex)
Totalfinaelf Evacuates Nigeria Oilfield

Reuters


Print This Page
Email This Page
See Most Sent
Marine Scouts Wait for Second Push Into Iraq
Praise, Protests, Threats: Reaction Around the World
Satellites Give U.S. Missiles Dead-on Aim
March 22

By Daniel Balint-Kurti

WARRI, Nigeria (Reuters) - France's TotalFinaElf shut its oil production facilities in Nigeria's western delta and evacuated workers on Saturday because of spiraling tribal unrest in the area, company officials said.

"We decided to shut our production and evacuate the area because of the deteriorating situation," a company official said in Lagos.

In the same region, other workers were stranded in a major ChevronTexaco oil export terminal as angry villagers prevented them from leaving, industry sources said.

The leaders of the Ijaw ethnic community, which has been clashing with the army since Thursday, raised their death toll estimates from 14 to 58, all allegedly killed in army raids on villages.

At least 55 others have died, including 10 soldiers, in the political and ethnic violence, according to community leaders and security sources.

A Reuters correspondent saw a helicopter land in the oil city of Warri, bringing the first group of workers fleeing fighting in oilfields around the Escravos export terminal.

The group was accompanied by armed soldiers.

Company officials said the helicopters were ferrying frightened workers from the Opumami tank farm, the French oil firm's most important facility in the Obodo district where it produces just 7,500 barrels per day of crude.

But there was no immediate official confirmation that militants had set fire to part of the tank farm.

"We are still getting reports from the area. We are following the situation," the Lagos-based official said.

A surge in ethnic conflict in the Nigerian delta has forced oil majors Shell and ChevronTexaco to shut down their operations.

The two companies, which have declared force majeure on some export commitments, say they are losing a total of 315,000 bpd of crude, or 16 percent of Nigeria's output.

The Niger Delta, which accounts for most of Nigeria's just over two million bpd crude output, has been on the boil for years, with oil multinationals getting caught in a deadly struggle for oil benefits by local ethnic groups.

ELECTIONS THREATENED

The latest flare-up pits ethnic Itsekiri against the Ijaw, who are spearheading a campaign in the delta for a greater share of Nigeria's oil wealth. The increasingly violent campaign has added to nationwide political unrest threatening the country's national elections next month.

Scores of people, including 10 soldiers quelling unrest, have died in the past one week alone.

Nationwide, well over 10,000 people have died in ethnic, religious and political violence since President Olusegun Obasanjo's election in 1999 ended 15 years of military dictatorship.

The unrest is raising fears over a series of elections, including a presidential poll on April 19. Disruption to key oil exports could add economic hardship to the political crisis.

A source at an oil contracting company in Warri town said villagers were preventing her firm's employees from leaving ChevronTexaco's Escravos export terminal.

"Our staff are stuck there. They said they have no way of getting out from there. They said they are just living by God's will," she said, adding that Ijaw youths were shouting threats at those behind the terminal's fences.

"They came toward them, shouting that they will kill them because Chevron has invited the police to fight them," she said.

ChevronTexaco denied requesting any action on the part of the police or the army. Company spokesman Sola Omole said in Lagos there was an "uneasy calm" around the terminal.

Port agent GAC said on Friday that the 340,000 bpd Escravos export terminal was expected to close on Saturday after the army ordered its evacuation, but Omole said the only evacuation so far had been of villagers sheltering there from the unrest.

Copyright 2003 Reuters News Service. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

 
 
Sponsored by Royal Caribbean (Ad Served by DoubleClick)
  RELATED STORIES
International Index
More Raw News
 
 INTERNATIONAL HEADLINES
Fires Blaze in Baghdad After Strikes Resume
Troops Capture Taliban Rebels and Arms
France Working on Saddam Exile Deal?
Could Saddam's Elite Troops Be Defecting?
Marines Get Warm Welcome in Iraqi Town

 


Copyright 2003 ABCNEWS Internet Ventures.
Click here for:  HELP   ADVERTISER INFO   CONTACT ABC   TOOLS   PR   TERMS OF USE   PRIVACY POLICY

Family of sites:      ABC.com        ABC Family        ESPN.com        Disney.com        FamilyFun.com        GO Mail        Movies.com