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Tuesday, 16 May, 2000, 18:46 GMT 19:46 UK
Militants close Nigerian oil plant

It's accepted that the Delta region has not benefitted
The French oil company Elf Aquitaine is to hold talks with officials of Rivers State in Nigeria after militant youths forced the suspension of the company's operations in the state.

Elf officials said youths from the Elele community in southern Rivers State shut the Olo flow station on Saturday, demanding employment, contracts and the provision of infrastructure.


Delta children
Communities in the Delta region want a fair share of the oil wealth
"The community had no reason to shut down the flow station because Elf has done much for them in terms of provision of social amenities and scholarships for the youths," said one Elf official.

The refinery produces 5,000 barrels of oil a day in a joint venture with the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation.

Threats

Last month a coalition of militant groups from the Niger Delta region threatened multinational oil firms with disruption, if President Olusegun Obasanjo failed to pass a regional development bill.

Parliament in Nigeria has approved a revised version of the bill but the president objected to some of the changes - including an increase in a tax on oil company profits from 2% to 3%.

Oil production in the Delta generates much of Nigeria's revenue, but historically the region has not benefitted from the wealth.

The military government of the late Sani Abacha forcibly repressed dissent in the Delta.

Since democracy was restored last year, President Obasanjo has promised to improve the situation in the region.

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