A group of communities in Nigeria’s Niger River delta demanded a stake in an oil block it said it was promised when Royal Dutch Shell sold its share to a local company six years ago.

The communities in the Gbaramatu district, near the southern oil town of Warri, want 5% of a lease owned by Lagos-based Neconde Energy and state-owned Nigerian National Petroleum Corp, according to a statement emailed by the group on Friday.

Neconde “refused to fulfill the 5% equity share to the host communities, whose environment has been negatively impacted and devastated by oil activities, destroying our age-long traditional fishing business,” said Momotimi Guwor, a spokesman for the communities.

Impoverished groups in Nigeria’s crude-producing south have longstanding grievances that they don’t benefit from the natural resources extracted from the region. Militants regularly attack oil facilities to press their demands for a greater share of the revenue that Africa’s biggest crude producer earns from the fuel.

In recent years, Shell, Total SA, Chevron Corp and Eni SpA have divested from onshore assets in the West African nation to focus more on offshore production.

Neconde denied any deal existed with the communities and said it had met all its obligations. The company owns 45% of the block, called Oil Mining Lease 42, while NNPC holds the rest. It produces 10 000 barrels of crude a day, according to Neconde’s website.

“There was no 5% agreement completed with the host communities as Shell sold its equity shares and we bought them,” said Olajide Ishola, Chief Operating Officer, Neconde Energy. “We will engage the communities, discuss and reach a compromise.”

Neconde has until late July to address the demands, the Gbaramatu communities said.

 

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-Bloomberg