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CBS News: Rebels: 3 Nigeria Oil Pipelines Destroyed

Primary Anti-Government Group Claims Attacks, Terminal Exports 200,000 Barrels Per Day

LAGOS, Nigeria, May 8, 2007

CBS/AP) The main militant group in restive southern Nigeria said Tuesday that it has bombed three major oil pipelines.

The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta said in a statement from an e-mail address frequently used by the group that it had attacked three major pipelines in Bayelsa state.

“Fighters of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta attacked and destroyed three major pipelines. … We will continue indefinitely with attacks on all pipelines, platforms and support vessels,” the statement promised.

The claim was not immediately verifiable by the Nigerian authorities or by Eni SpA, whose subsidiary Agip operates the Brass export terminal, but previous announcements of attacks have proved true. The terminal exports 200,000 barrels of crude per day.

A previous bombing by MEND in December of 2005 knocked out nearly a quarter of production in Africa’s largest oil exporter, and that has still not been restored. The militant group also recently claimed responsibility for the kidnapping of six foreign oil workers last week.

MEND say they are fighting for a greater share of the tens of billions of dollars of oil revenues generated by their impoverished region, and the freedom of two leaders on trial on treason and corruption charges.

Despite its oil wealth, Nigeria remains deeply impoverished and riddled by massive government corruption. Militant attacks in the west African country, which produces the highly desirable light sweet crude oil that is easy to refine, often rattle oil markets already jittery over instability in the Middle East.

Gasoline prices in the U.S. rose yet again at the pump Monday, but fell along with oil in the futures market as traders bet that the government will report an increase in gasoline inventories this week.

However, the news of the blasts in Nigeria threatened to mitigate any positive news about inventories.

The national average price of a gallon of gas reached $3.035 Monday, up 0.1 cent overnight and more than 2 cents since Friday, according to AAA and the Oil Price Information Service. In some parts of the country, however, gas is approaching $4 a gallon.

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