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African News Dimension, South Africa: Nigeria : SHELL PUTS OUT NIGERIAN OIL WELL FIRE

Friday, 17 February 2006,
By Andnetwork .com
The energy giant Shell has put out a fire that broke out on one of its oil wells in the Niger Delta but a nearby plant remains closed with a production loss of 37,800 barrels per day, the firm said Friday.

Company firefighters were deployed on Thursday to the Cawthorne Channel, part of the New Calabar river 30 kilometres (18 miles) south of the oil city of Port Harcourt, a statement from the Anglo-Dutch oil giant said.
The fire erupted shortly after a militant group threatened to attack Shell facilities, sparking fears of sabotage, but the group told AFP on Friday that it had nothing to do with the blaze, which
is being investigated.
“The fire has been extinguished but Cawthorne Channel-1 flowstation is still shut. The cause of the fire is yet to be determined,” a Shell statement said.
Shell was forced to close down four of its Niger Delta flow stations last month, following violent guerrilla attacks, and was already losing 106,000 barrels per day in production before the Thursday's fire.
On Wednesday a Nigerian military helicopter gunship strafed barges belonging to oil smugglers in the delta. Militants accused Shell of allowing the army to use the firm's Warri airstrip as a base for the strike and threatened revenge.
The company would not confirm or deny the airfield had been used, but witnesses at the airport confirmed that the chopper was operating there.
A spokesman for the militants, an ethnic Ijaw separatist group known as the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), said of the fire: “I'm aware, but it had nothing to do with us.”
But he added: “You won't need to ask when we visit Cawthorne Channel.” Last month MEND blew up an oil pipeline, kidnapped for Shell subcontractors and held them for 19 days and killed 14 soldiers and two civilian workers in an attack on one of the company's flow stations.
Source : Sapa-AFP /fws

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