Chevron evacuates staff as protesters ground operations
By News Express on 11/08/2016
United States major oil company, Chevron, yesterday evacuated workers from its Escravos tank farm in Delta State as protesters grounded operations at the farm. The protesters, from Ugborodo in Warri South- West Local Government Area, occupied the installation located in their community, which is also a major source of gas supply to some power generation firms.
The protest occurred on the same day that Royal Dutch Shell Plc shut a one billion standard cubic feet per day capacity major gas production pipeline on its Oil Mining Lease (OML) 23. At the Escravos tank farm, the oil workers were airlifted from the barricaded premises by choppers, which ran several trips between Ugborodo and Warri.
The protest, which commenced on Tuesday evening, led protesters to set bonfires in and around the company with bold signs indicating highly inflammable substances. Speaking on the development, the General Manager, Policy, Government and Public Affairs of the company, Mr. Deji Haastrup, said on telephone that the company was in touch with the protesters. He expressed optimism for a truce as the company was planning to engage them.
The protesters, made up of mostly women, children, youths and elders, however, paralysed activities at the tank farm. They accused the company of discriminating against them even as the host community.
They also alleged that the management of Chevron hardly considered them in matters of employment and contract awards in addition to general neglect of Ugborodo community as regards development.
With the main gate barricaded, access to the company was denied those outside the premises while those within were not allowed to move out.
This was not the first time the tank farm had been occupied by Itsekiri protesters. Security agencies in the tank farm calmed the protesters with an appeal to them to vacate the area, which they refused.
Speaking on the siege, the community’s Youth President, Mr. Ofe Nene, said the company had been breaching aspects of the Local Content Policy (LCP) put in place by government to regulate operations of oil companies with their host communities.
He said there was also an agreement for a New Town project in Ugborodo because of the enormous Chevron project in the area that has been impacting on the people, but the company has decided to abandon the project because it believes the people do not know their rights and cannot speak.
Nene said the action was also partly about doing turnaround maintenance (TAM) that usually engages some locals, but that “for about two months that we complained in a letter to them that they are not carrying us along, they have been deceiving us.
“We are in Ugborodo, but they will invite us to a meeting in Warri, when we get to Warri, they will either tell us that the date is not feasible or that so and so management official was not available,” he said.
“Chevron has not fulfilled many of its promises,” said Collins Edema, a youth and protest leader in the Ugborodo Itsekiri community. Edema insisted that the farm had been blocked.
He added the U.S. oil major had previously promised to create jobs for young people from the impoverished area and also provide new accommodation after housing next to the tank farm was destroyed due to Chevron’s activities.
“Our protest will continue until Chevron listens to our demands. We at Ugborodo are urging other Itsekiri communities to follow suit and shut down Chevron activities in our communities,” he said.
•Excerpted from a New Telegraph report.
Source News Express
Posted 11/08/2016 06:19:27 AM
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