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01 Jan 2002 00:00
Oil major ChevronTexaco said on Tuesday it had reached a preliminary agreement to end a nine-day siege at its Escravos terminal by a group of elderly Nigerian women.
“We are still working on the final document and we will sign the final resolution later today,” Sola Omole, ChevronTexaco’s General Manager, Government and Public Affairs in Lagos told Reuters.
He said that as a result of the agreement, the protesters who demand jobs and better services for the local communities, had allowed staff members access to key facilities, although they had not left the 340 000-barrels-per-day terminal yet.
“The women have agreed to vacate the control room, allowing us to start back-up production,” he said.
In a statement issued later on Tuesday and confirming that a final deal should be reached soon, the company said the control room was “the nerve centre of oil production and exports.”
The statement said the siege, which began on July 8, had disrupted oil and gas production activities from the oil fields operated jointly by the company and the state-run Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation in the western Niger Delta.
However, since the beginning of the occupation the company has insisted that oil loading for exports had not been affected.
Militants from local communities have often targeted oil majors in Nigeria’s Niger Delta region, disrupting production and taking staff hostage.
The protesters, who like a majority of Nigerians often live on under one dollar a day, demand a fairer share of oil revenues in the populous country, the world’s sixth biggest producer of crude and a member of Opec.
The Escravos siege began last week when at least 150 women stormed the terminal on an island off Nigeria’s southwestern Delta state.
They occupied the terminal’s airstrip and prevented access to the facility by water, trapping some 1 100 ChevronTexaco staff inside. The first indication that the two sides may be close to a deal came late on Sunday when some 300 workers were released.
Omole said under the deal the company had agreed to supply water and electricity to larger areas in the region as well as give more jobs to local residents but did not elaborate.
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