ChevronTexaco announced yesterday it would suspend oil production in the Nigerian Delta due to a fire caused by lightning and an ongoing peaceful protest in which hundreds of Nigerian women have taken over several Delta flowstations. In the first takeover , 600 women occupied the Escravos terminal and held 700 workers inside to demand that the corporation provide their oil-rich community with jobs and infrastructure development. This protest, which ended last week after the company offered to hire at least 25 villagers and to build schools, electrical and water systems, halted daily production of 500,000 barrels. Meanwhile, women from another tribe continue to occupy four company flowstations they seized last week – demanding jobs, utilities, schools, hospitals, cash compensation for pollution, and resources for tribal elderly. Negotiations to end this standoff began Monday.
The juxtaposition of poverty with oil abundance has spurred frequent and typically violent protests. In the past, ChevronTexaco has admitted to aiding Nigeria’s military and police, which are notorious for violating human rights, according to Public-i.org. National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, is a former director and board member of Chevron Corporation – which is yet another in a series of connections between the oil industry and the Bush administration. ChevronTexaco, which exports 500,000 barrels of crude oil from Nigeria each day, is the third largest oil company in the Delta region and the largest in California (its home state). Nigeria, a critical supplier to the US, is the sixth-largest oil producer worldwide.