Exxon Mobil Negotiating With Striking Oil Workers in Nigeria

Associated Press
Tuesday, April 29, 2008

LAGOS, Nigeria, April 28 -- Representatives of Exxon Mobil met Monday with striking workers who have shut down oil production at the company's operations in Nigeria, officials said.

Exxon Mobil spokesman Adeyemi Fakayejo said the negotiations were aimed at ending the walkout by white-collar workers seeking better pay and benefits. "The meetings are continuing," he said.

The strike began late last week, and the company said the stoppage had affected output.

Fakayejo said Monday that he could not speculate on how much oil production the company had lost in Nigeria, Africa's biggest oil producer. Exxon Mobil is the country's second-largest operator.

Separately, a group behind a series of pipeline bombings said its latest attack had caused Royal Dutch Shell's Nigerian joint venture losses of about 350,000 barrels per day.

Shell spokesman Precious Okolobo could not confirm the group's claim, and it could not be independently verified. The group cited an inside source for the information.

Shell, Nigeria's largest oil company, said an earlier attack had cut about 169,000 barrels per day of crude.

Nigeria is pumping crude significantly below its capacity of 2.5 million barrels per day after attacks that began in 2006. The shortfall is adding pressure to oil markets that are reaching record highs.

Concerns about supply disruptions in Nigeria helped drive the price of light, sweet crude for June to a record $119.93 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange overnight. Prices later retreated to settle at $118.75 a barrel.

At the pump, the national average price Americans pay for gasoline rose 0.4 cents overnight to a record $3.603 a gallon, according to a survey of stations by AAA and the Oil Price Information Service. While prices are 66 cents higher than a year ago, their rate of increase has slowed since last week, when prices jumped more than 2 cents a day several times.

Gas prices are rising in part because refiners are making the seasonal switch from winter-grade gasoline to the more expensive, but less polluting, fuel they must sell during summer.

Supplies tend to fall while refiners are doing this as they try to sell off their winter gasoline.

© 2008 The Washington Post Company