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AFX News: Lines form for gas before Nigeria strike

Tuesday, September 12, 2006 11:41:00 AM

ABUJA, Nigeria (AFX) – Long lines formed at Nigerian gas stations Tuesday ahead of an oil-workers’ strike due to begin at midnight

The country’s two biggest petroleum-industry unions called the three-day action to protest the death of a member, killed in a shoot-out between government forces and militants in the restive, oil-rich south.

“There will be a comprehensive warning strike,” said Peter Akpatason, the head of the blue-collar workers union. He said his bloc and the white-collar union, which have a joint membership of around 20,000 Nigerians, would look to see if their concerns over security were being taken seriously before deciding on further action

“We want to allow some time for reasoning,” Akpatason said

The oil unions have frequently held strikes before without a big impact on production or foreign exports. However, gas stations often have lines several hours long as commercial fuel stores dwindle and aren’t replenished

In Abuja, the capital, queues already stretched around the block at some stations early on Tuesday morning

Wednesday’s strike was called after Royal Dutch Shell employee Nelson Ujeya was killed in a shoot-out between militants and government forces three weeks ago. He had been held hostage in a community dispute for nearly a month when local leaders and militants intervened to free him. Twelve people died when the military opened fire on the boat carrying him to freedom

Nigeria is Africa’s biggest producer of crude and the fifth-largest supplier of oil to the United States. Kidnappings and militant attacks in the southern Niger Delta region, where most crude is pumped, have cut production by nearly 900,000 barrels per day this year so far, helping send crude prices to historical highs

Copyright 2006 Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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