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Nigerian Militants Claim Sabotage of Shell Pipeline (Update1)




Nigerian Militants Claim Sabotage of Shell Pipeline (Update1) 

By Dulue Mbachu and Karl Maier

Sept. 16 (Bloomberg) — Nigerian militants claimed responsibility for sabotaging an oil pipeline operated by a unit of Royal Dutch Shell Plc as attacks against the oil industry in the Niger River delta entered a fourth day.

The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta said it used explosives to destroy the pipeline at Bakana Front in the Degema local government area in Rivers state, according to an e-mailed statement today. The attack occurred at 10:10 p.m. yesterday, MEND spokesman Jomo Gbomo said in the statement.

Chevron Corp.’s Idama oilfield was also raided by militants earlier today, Reuters reported. A British citizen was seized overnight by unidentified gunmen near Port Harcourt, said Lieutenant Colonel Sagir Musa, a spokesman for the joint military task force in charge of security in the region.

Musa dismissed reports of an attack on the Shell pipeline as propaganda. “No facility, national asset or military location was attacked,” Musa said by phone from Port Harcourt. Tony Okonedo, Shell’s spokesman in Nigeria, was unable to confirm the attack.

MEND said yesterday its fighters destroyed a Shell flow station and a major pipeline feeding the Bonny export terminal.

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

The latest attacks started on Sept. 13 when Nigerian troops and militants clashed in the Elem-Tombia district, south of Port Harcourt. The militants said the military had launched an air and marine offensive against its positions and declared an “oil war” targeting installations in the region that produces nearly all of Nigeria’s oil.

MEND says it’s fighting on behalf of the inhabitants of the Niger Delta, who are yet to share in the oil wealth of the region. Attacks by armed groups in the region have cut more than 20 percent of Nigeria’s oil exports since 2006.

— With additional reporting by Tony Tamuno in Lagos. Editors: Stephen Cunningham, Karl Maier

To contact the reporter on this story: Karl Maier in Rome atkmaier2@bloomberg.netDulue Mbachu via the Johannesburg bureau

Last Updated: September 16, 2008 05:45 EDT

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