Shell pledges to stop flares in Nigeria

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Shell, the Anglo-Dutch oil giant, launched a pre-emptive defence of its environmental and human rights record in Nigeria before today's annual general meeting at which it is expected to face a barrage of criticism from shareholders. Brian Anderson, managing director of Shell's Nigerian operation, committed the company to eliminating flares, the result of burning off surplus gas, by 2008.

He admitted production had been hit by recent violence: "We've had some pretty tricky moments over the past two or three weeks." It emerged that some of Shell's installations in the Niger Delta had been invaded by protesters armed with machine guns. Shell's comments came as the world development movement yesterday backed the shareholder resolution by Pirc, the pension fund advisory group, condemning Shell's record in Nigeria.