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8

Nigerian Workers Vacated Occupied Pumping Stations

Community youths in neighboring Bayelsa state had invaded an oil pumping station at Clough Creek

Villagers in Nigeria's southern Rivers state have vacated two of four oil pumping stations they were occupying in a dispute with oil companies, a local community leader said on Monday.

In a separate incident, a source at Italian oil firm Agip, owned by oil and gas group Eni said community youths in neighboring Bayelsa state had invaded an oil pumping station at Clough Creek on Saturday night and were occupying it in a dispute with the company.

An Eni spokesperson said there was practically no impact on the company's production there.

Members of the Kula community in Rivers invaded four flow stations last Wednesday demanding contracts from the operators, Royal Dutch Shell and Chevron.

The occupation reduced Nigerian crude output by about 60,000 barrels per day (bpd), on top of about 500,000 bpd that have been shut down since February following a wave of militant attacks on the oil industry across the Niger Delta.

"As a mark of respect for the state government we have allowed the reopening of two flow stations, Ekulama I and Belema," said Kula community leader Dan Opusingi.

Both those stations are operated by Shell but a company spokesman could not confirm Opusingi's information.

Ekulama I, which normally pumps 9,000 bpd, was already shut down prior to the invasion by villagers because of fighting between militants and troops earlier in the day.

Before the siege, Shell and Chevron were pumping about 60,000 bpd from Belema, Ekulama II and Robertkiri. It was not immediately clear whether Belema had resumed production after the villagers left.