The UN’s IRIN news agency reports that Nigerian troops shot and killed four villagers who were protesting at the main export terminal run by ChevronTexaco in the Niger Delta Feb. 4. Over 200 protesters from the village of Ugborodo near Warri occupied the Escravos plant just before dawn to demand a fairer share of revenues from the 300,000 barrels of crude oil that are pumped out every day. "Soldiers shot at them, killing four and injuring three others," said Helen Joe, one of the protest leaders.
ChevronTexaco’s Nigerian subsidiary said in a statement that its Escravos facilities had been "forcibly entered" and they had reported the incident to the security forces "who have since contained it." The company declined to provide further details, and did not confirm the deaths or the injuries.
The ethnic Itsekiri villagers from Ugborodo accuse ChevronTexaco of reneging on promises of jobs and compensation made in the wake of similar protests in July 2002, when locals camped out at the terminal, stopping oil exports for 10 days. Since the 2002 protest, Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo has deployed thousands of troops to guard vital oil facilities.
Over 90% of Nigeria’s oil production is generated by joint ventures with international companies in which the government has the majority stake. The government has a 60% stake in ChevronTexaco holdings, the third biggest operator in Nigeria. Similar joint ventures are run with Royal Dutch/Shell, ExxonMobil, Total and Agip.
In 1998, two unarmed protestors were shot and killed by soldiers at another ChevronTexaco oil platform. A lawsuit has been filed in the US charging ChevronTexaco with responsibility for the deaths because they had invited the troops onto the site to quell the disturbance.