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Niger Delta Militants Attack Shell, Chevron Plants (Update2)

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Niger Delta Militants Attack Shell, Chevron Plants (Update2)

By Dulue Mbachu

Sept. 14 (Bloomberg) — Nigerian militants said they killed at least 22 soldiers and destroyed parts of Royal Dutch Shell Plc‘s Soku gas plant and Chevron Corp.’s Kula oil pumping station in overnight attacks.

The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, or MEND, said in an e-mailed statement that it also blew up a crude pipeline at Nembe at several points. Chevron confirmed the attack on its Kula pumping station in Robertkiri, which lies in the Kula district, southwest of the main oil hub of Port Harcourt.

“There was an attack on Robertkiri flow station, though it was already shut due to pipeline leakage,” a Chevron spokesman said in a telephone interview from Lagos, declining to be identified. Shell spokeswoman Caroline Wittgen said the company is investigating reports of attacks on its facilities.

The Nigerian military “heroically and successfully repelled the attack,” spokesman Lt. Col. Sagir Musa said in a telephone interview, without providing details.

Attacks by armed groups, including the MEND, cut Nigeria’s oil exports by more than 20 percent since 2006, disrupting fields operated by Shell, Europe’s biggest oil producer. Shell extended a suspension of export obligations for its Bonny Light crude on Sept. 12 after discovering further leaks on a pipeline attacked by MEND in July.

`Oil War’

MEND said yesterday it was declaring an “oil war” in the Niger Delta in response to a military raid on its positions. Nigeria’s army said it returned fire when militants attacked a routine patrol.

“The operation will continue until the government of Nigeria appreciates that the solution to peace in the Niger Delta is justice, respect and dialogue,” MEND said in its statement today. All international oil and gas loading vessels entering the region must drop anchor and wait at sea or they’ll be destroyed, MEND said. It repeated a warning to oil companies to evacuate staff as it plans to raze facilities “to the ground.”

Chevron is monitoring the situation to ensure employees are safe, Houston-based spokesman Scott Walker said by e-mail.

Though Nigeria has Africa’s biggest hydrocarbon reserves, with more than 30 billion barrels of crude and 187 trillion cubic feet of gas, it has dropped behind Angola as the continent’s biggest oil exporter because of violent disruptions. The west African country is the fifth-biggest source of U.S. oil imports.

To contact the reporter on this story: Dulue Mbachu via the Johannesburg bureau at [email protected]

Last Updated: September 14, 2008 10:10 EDT

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