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Page added on October 31, 2004

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Nigerian Strike to Target Oil Exports


LAGOS, Nigeria Oct 31, 2004 — Unions declared the top oil multinational here, Royal Dutch/Shell, “an enemy of the Nigerian people” on Sunday and called a Nov. 16 nationwide strike that they said would target oil exports in Africa’s oil giant.

The threats in the world’s No. 7 oil exporter the source of one-fifth of U.S. oil imports appeared likely to send new shocks through the global oil price market.

Unions called the Nov. 16 strike after giving President Olusegun Obasanjo until Sunday to reverse September’s 23 percent increase in fuel prices in Nigeria.

Union leaders singled out Royal Dutch/Shell Group, Nigeria’s largest petroleum producer. They accused it of planning to try to block the strike in court.

“We have resolved to declare Shell an enemy of the Nigerian people,” Adams Oshiomhole, leader of the main Nigeria Labor Congress, told reporters.

“Shell will be treated as an enemy. We have the capacity to engage them,” Oshiomhole said, without elaborating.

Neither government nor Shell officials could be reached for immediate comment.

An October general strike over the fuel price increases paralyzed business overall but left petroleum exports unaffected.

The strike helped push oil prices past the $50 a barrel mark globally.

“The last time we did not target oil exports because we expected the government to listen,” Brown Ogbeifun, president of the union for Nigeria’s white-collar oil workers, said.

“Now that the government will not listen, we have no option but to target exports,” Ogbeifun said.

Nigeria exports 2.5 million barrels a day.

Strikes in Nigeria often are violent, at times deadly.

Separately, gangs and ethnic militias vying for local shares of the oil wealth repeatedly have targeted foreign oil producers with kidnappings, takeovers and sabotage.

In March 2003, fighting between rival ethnic militia groups near the port city of Warri which also drew in government troops forced oil companies to shut down 40 percent of Nigeria’s oil exports for weeks. Much of that oil remains shut off.

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