THE Shell oil company said on Sunday that invaders were wreaking havoc at its natural gas plant in Utorogu in Nigeria’s southern Delta State.
“The activities of these persons are disruptive with potentially grave consequences for public safety,” the Anglo-Dutch giant said in a statement.
Shell Petroleum Development Company Limited (SPDC) is compelled “to raise the alarm over the unwholesome activities of some unauthorised persons, who have formed the habit of invading the precincts of the Utorogu gas plant,” the statement said.
It said supposed community representatives had been disowned by the Iwhrekan, Otughievwen and Otor Udu communities near the plant.
The company, noting that the invaders openly smoked around the facilities, recalled several explosions at oil installations which claimed hundreds of lives over the past four years.
The SPDC appealed to the Delta State government to intervene and “avert this looming threat to life and limb.”
The police have promised to beef up security around the nation’s oil installations to prevent acts of vandalism and sabotage.
Communities in the oil-rich region have frequently resorted to hostage-taking and vandalism to press for jobs, money and amenities.
Youths from the Ilaje community in southwest Ondo State last month occupied a drilling station belonging to the US oil group ChevronTexaco and took hostage 88 expatriate and local staff working for Loyd Nobel, a Chevron subcontractor, to press their demands for jobs with the firm.
They were all later released following negotiations which lasted several days. Shell, the largest oil firm operating in Nigeria, is a frequent target of these activists and vandals. – AFP