Multinational oil giants Chevron Texaco Oil Company, Shell and Total Fina Elf have shut down operations in Nigeria's trouble-torn southern Delta region. The companies estimate that the disruptions have reduced Nigeria's daily oil output by about 30 per cent. The country is the world's sixth largest oil exporter.
Dozens of people are believed to have died and hundreds injured due to fighting between two local communities: Ijaw and Itsekiri. The clashes are attributed to demands by the Ijaw community for better political representation and compensation from oil companies who they accuse of polluting their fishing waters. Militant Ijaw youths have declared that they would make the region volatile and demanded a bigger share of revenue from oil wells which they insist lie on their traditional lands.
The Nigerian government has sent thousands of soldiers to the region to try and contain the conflagration. Fleeing refugees report that the area is under siege by navy gunboats and troops. As a retaliatory measure, the Ijaws claim to have seized 11 oil installations.