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BLOOMBERG: Crude Oil Jumps as Nigerian Militant Attacks Cut Exports, Hostages Taken

Nigeria Militants Report New Attacks on Shell, Army (Update1)
Feb. 20 (Bloomberg) — Nigerian militants reported new attacks on the army and an oil installation operated by a Royal Dutch Shell Plc venture, two days after taking nine hostages and causing a fire at Forcados offshore export platform.
Militants blew up a Shell oil-pipeline manifold at Odidi in Delta state and an abandoned Nigerian army vessel during an attack at 2 a.m. local time, said the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, or MEND.
“We are going to continue with the destruction of oil facilities in Delta state while concluding arrangements for our wider attacks on the entire region,'' Jomo Gbomo, a MEND spokesman, said in an e-mailed statement. Bloomberg couldn't immediately confirm the statement's authenticity.
Shell yesterday said its ventures in Nigeria have shut down all oil production in the western Niger River delta, halting 455,000 barrels of production a day and prompting gains in international oil prices. The closures include the EA offshore field, which has a capacity of 115,000 barrels a day, and the Forcados export terminal. The shutdown affects about 20 percent of daily output in Nigeria, Africa's top oil producer.
The venture MEND said it has attacked today, the Shell Petroleum Development Co., pumps about half of Nigeria's output. State-owned Nigerian National Petroleum Corp. holds a 55 percent stake in the SPDC joint venture, Shell 30 percent, Total SA 10 percent and Eni SpA 5 percent.
Shell has no immediate comment on today's statement by MEND, spokeswoman Caroline Wittgen said by phone from London.
Brent crude oil for April delivery rose as much as 2.2 percent, the most this month, to $61.23 a barrel in electronic trading on London's ICE Futures exchange. The contract traded at $61.10 at 2:41 p.m. Singapore time, 31 percent higher than a year ago. The New York Mercantile Exchange, the world's largest energy market, is closed today.
OPEC Producer
Nigeria produced 2.36 million barrels of oil a day last month, making it the sixth-biggest producer in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Nations, according to Bloomberg data.
The fifth-biggest supplier to the U.S., Nigeria produces low-sulfur, or sweet, crude oil, prized by refiners for the proportion of high-value gasoline it yields. Shell, based in The Hague and the world's third-biggest oil company, produces about half of Nigeria's output.
Shell is maintaining a “force majeure'' for both the EA field and Forcados that it declared last month, Wittgen said last night by telephone from London. Shell halted another 106,000 barrels a day of output after a Jan. 11 attack on its Trans-Ramos pipeline.
MEND forces on Feb. 18 also attacked a state-owned pipeline at Escravos that carries petroleum products to the northern city of Kaduna and a Shell-run oil pipeline in the Chanomi Creek area.
Shell Targeted
They said yesterday that all oil workers should evacuate the Niger delta “immediately.''
The militants vowed Jan. 30 to launch attacks to cut the export capacity of Nigeria by 30 percent in February, in an e- mailed statement. The group said it targeted Shell because government military helicopters used an airstrip operated by the company to attack villagers in the delta.
“The attack on helpless civilians by the Nigerian government with the assistance of Shell is unforgivable and as previously stated, Shell will pay a terrible price for this,'' the group said in its statement today.
The hostages, employees of Willbros Group Inc., were taken from a boat near Forcados that was under contract to Shell, Willbros said in a statement.
MEND today said its forces will attack any vessel attempting to load crude at Forcados and “execute everyone on board.''
Among those kidnapped are three U.S. citizens, one from the U.K., two from Egypt, two from Thailand, and one from the Philippines, Willbros said in a Feb. 18 statement.
MEND today also threatened the life of Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo.
Obasanjo has set up a committee to work for the hostages' release through dialogue, the Nigerian government said in a statement on Feb. 18.
“We are declaring war on Obasanjo,'' MEND said in its statement. “We will attack and kill him should he venture into the Niger delta for any reason.''
To contact the reporter on this story:
Karl Maier in Khartoum at [email protected]Julie Ziegler in Abuja at [email protected]

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