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BLOOMBERG: Nigeria Militants Vow to Raise Oil Output Cuts by 1 Million B/D

March 5 (Bloomberg) — Nigerian militants who are holding three foreign oil workers hostage said they aim to cut the West African nation's oil production by another 1 million barrels a day this month by stepping up its attacks. The kidnappings and attacks last month on a pipeline and the Forcados export terminal forced Royal Dutch Shell Plc's venture to halt output of 455,000 barrels a day, about a fifth of Nigeria's daily production.
The group, known as the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, or MEND, failed to carry out its threat of a 30 percent shutdown in February.
“The Nigerian government is not sufficiently impacted to consider the conditions we have laid out before them and we perhaps need to be more ambitious in our attacks on oil facilities,'' MEND spokesman Jomo Gbomo said today in an e- mailed response to questions. “Whether we will achieve this objective remains to be seen.''
The militants on March 1 released six of the nine foreign hostages, including an American, two Egyptians, two citizens of Thailand and one from the Philippines, whom they kidnapped from a Willbros Inc. boat on Feb. 18. They're still holding two U.S. citizens and one Briton.
This month's target of 1 million barrels a day “is excluding what has been cut off the market so far,'' Gbomo said.
Nigeria produced 2.36 million barrels of oil a day in January, making it the sixth-biggest producer in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Nations, according to Bloomberg data.
The fifth-biggest supplier to the U.S., Nigeria produces low sulfur, or sweet, crude oil, prized by refiners for the proportion of high-value gasoline it yields.
Restore Production
Nigerian Oil Minister Edmund Daukoru said on March 2 that the oil industry, Africa's biggest, could restore three-quarters of lost production within weeks of the release of the remaining hostages.
“As soon as the hostages are released, we hope to be able to fix the facilities and to get about 75 percent of it back on line within two weeks,'' Daukoru said in an interview in Washington.
MEND, which claims 5,000 members, has said it's planning to deliver “one huge crippling blow'' to the oil industry and will expand its attacks beyond the western delta.
Shell last month shut down its EA offshore oil field and all production from the western Niger delta.
The Shell venture pumps about half of Nigeria's total oil production. Exxon Mobil Corp., Chevron Corp., Total SA and Eni SpA also have ventures with the Nigerian state oil company.
MEND is demanding that the government release Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, a former governor of Bayelsa state, who was impeached and arrested on money-laundering charges, and Mujahid Dokubo Asari, a militia leader who is in jail on treason charges. Asari is in and out of trial. The governor, who has said he's innocent, is awaiting a court appearance.
The militants also want Shell to pay $1.5 billion to the Ijaw people, the biggest ethnic group in the Niger delta, as compensation for alleged environmental damage.
To contact the reporters on this story:
To contact the reporters on this story:
Karl Maier in Khartoum at
Last Updated: March 5, 2006 12:30 EST

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