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Nigeria Rebels Claim Attacks on Shell, Agip Oil Pipes

BLOOMBERG.COM

By Dulue Mbachu

July 8 (Bloomberg) — The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, the main militant group in Nigeria’s oil region, said it sabotaged major crude trunk lines run by Royal Dutch Shell Plc and Eni SpA subsidiary Agip.

The latest attack against Nigeria’s oil industry took place in Bayelsa state at about 2 a.m. local time, Jomo Gbomo, a spokesman for MEND, said today in an e-mailed statement.

A pipeline feeding Eni’s Brass terminal was sabotaged at Nembe Creek, while Shell’s Nembe Creek line was damaged at the village of Asawo, Gbomo said. Precious Okolobo, Shell’s Nigeria spokesman, didn’t immediately respond to a telephone message. Eni officials also didn’t immediately respond to e-mails.

MEND has intensified attacks against oil installations in the oil-rich Niger River delta since the military began an offensive against its positions in May. MEND claims to be fighting for a greater share of the region’s oil wealth for local communities.

Armed attacks in the delta, which accounts for almost all of Nigeria’s oil output, have cut more than 20 percent of the country’s crude exports since 2006. Nigeria is Africa’s leading oil producer and the fifth-biggest source of U.S. oil imports.

The rebel group rejected an amnesty offer from President Umaru Yar’Adua on June 25, saying the move failed to address key issues. Under the amnesty terms, fighters in the Niger River delta have until Oct. 4 to surrender their weapons, renounce violence and accept rehabilitation in order to avoid prosecution.

MEND is seeking the “genuine, unconditional release” of its leader Henry Okah, who faces trial for treason and gun- running, the group has said. It also wants “true federalism,” which would give the delta region control of oil revenue while paying tax to the central government, and restitution for civilian victims of military raids in the area.

To contact the reporter on this story: Dulue Mbachu in Lagos at [email protected]

Last Updated: July 8, 2009 03:19 EDT

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