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Fnancial Times: Nigerian militants threaten to attack oil tankers

By Dino Mahtani in Lagos and Carola Hoyos in London
Published: February 19 2006
Nigerian militants on Sunday threatened to extend their disruption of the country’s oil industry to attacks on oil tankers, after violence and abductions at the weekend led to the closure of an entire oilfield and forced Royal Dutch Shell to abandon loadings at one of its export terminals.
Militant attacks, including the kidnapping of nine oil workers on Saturday, have led to a 25 per cent cut in oil exports from the world’s eighth biggest crude exporter, a reduction likely to put upward pressure on prices when markets reopen today.
Though Nigeria’s supply problems come while markets are fairly well supplied with oil, the disruption could reduce the likelihood that the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries will cut production when it next meets on March 8.
Nigeria, an Opec member, had been pumping about 2.4m barrels per day of its light, sweet crude oil, which is highly sought after because it is easier to refine into petrol. Nigeria’s geographical location means it is well placed to serve the US and Europe.
Inventories in the US are swelling and in the past week Opec members Venezuela and Qatar have suggested the market is oversupplied.
Nigerian militant groups said they had destroyed the loading facility at the Forcados export terminal in attacks over the weekend. Shell said it was assessing the damage at Forcados, which produces 380,000 bpd, and had shut its nearby EA offshore field as a precautionary measure.
The militants have threatened to keep up the attacks, saying in an e-mail to Reuters, that they will extend them to oil tankers. A representative of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, the group claiming responsibility for the attacks, was quoted as saying: “There is no shortage of things to destroy.”

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