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ChevronTexaco Reaches Agreement with Ijaw Women - 2002-07-26

The Nigerian subsidiary of American oil giant ChevronTexaco says it has reached an agreement with the women who have been occupying its facilities in the Niger delta for more than a week. It paves the way for the ethnic Ijaw women to vacate the oilflow stations they invaded eight days ago. Their action was to press for amenities for their communities and jobs for their men.

In a statement, ChevronTexaco spokesman Sola Omole said the occupation came to an end on Thursday after the company signed a memorandum of understanding with the women. Local media reports said ChevronTexaco promised to meet many of the demands of the women. These include a pledge to provide them with jobs and social amenities.

ChevronTexaco also said operations have resumed at its export terminal that was shut down last weekend. It followed a fire that gutted the facility after lightening struck one of its tank farms.

The Export terminal itself was before the fire invaded by hundreds of protesting ethnic Itsekiri women demanding a better deal for their communities and relatives. Operations were seriously disrupted during the siege, stopping the pumping of over 300,000 barrels of oil per day. It forced ChevronTexaco to declare a force majuere – a jargon that means it would be unable to meet obligations to its customers.

Analysts estimate the company’s losses as a result of these incidents at well over than 10 million U.S. dollars.

But they say its problems with its host communities may not be over yet. One newspaper on Friday said another women’s group is planning to occupy its office in the Niger Delta city of Warri if ChevronTexaco fails to meet their demands early next week.

Protests for improved amenities in the impoverished Niger Delta region have been increasing again after months of respite. The aggrieved communities complain that decades of exploitation have seriously damaged their environment, leaving the people impoverished. They say their condition has been made worse by successive Nigerian governments that have failed to develop the area. Critics say the Niger Delta Development Commission set up by President Olusegun Obasanjo to redress the imbalance is moving too slowly for the restive communities.