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Reuters: Nigeria pipeline attack cuts Shell oil output

Wed May 30, 2007 11:39 AM BST

PORT HARCOURT, Nigeria (Reuters) – Villagers sabotaged a major export pipeline in Nigeria for the second time this month and halted 150,000 barrels per day (bpd) of oil production, Royal Dutch Shell said on Wednesday.

Community members stormed the Bomu pipeline complex, which is a major artery feeding the Bonny crude export terminal, prompting the partial shutdown of the Trans-Niger pipeline on Tuesday, a company spokesman said.

“Youths from the K-Dere community started to spoil the environment by opening some pressure indicator valves. Consequently, we had to shut in some of the oil production,” he said.

Shell said it had already begun to restore some of the lost production, but would not specify how much.

The same protesters, from the Ogoni area of the anarchic Niger Delta, had attacked the same pipeline hub on May 10 and occupied it for six days, forcing a 170,000 bpd closure.

“It’s the same group of boys who occupied the facility last time. They say Shell has broken the agreement it had with them and that’s why they decided to occupy it again,” said Blessing Kolzor, a community leader in K-Dere.

The protesters want a stake in the oil flowing through Ogoni, an area where Shell suspended production 14 years ago because of popular protests. There is no production in Ogoni but the area is still criss-crossed by oil pipelines.

Shell had only just resumed normal production levels at its 400,000 bpd Bonny terminal before Tuesday’s attack. Exports remained under a force majeure, a legal measure exempting Shell from its contractual export obligations.

The latest disruption brings to 845,000 bpd, or one-third of capacity, the volume of oil production shut by a wave of unrest in Nigeria, the world’s eighth largest oil exporter.

The country’s new President Umaru Yar’Adua, who took office Tuesday, said he would urgently address the crisis in the oil-producing Niger Delta.

Militants fighting for regional control over the region’s wealth have promised to release six hostages on Wednesday as a sign of their readiness to talk. About 25 foreigners are currently being held captive.

(Additional reporting by Randy Fabi in London)
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