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Niger Delta Rebels Say They Hit Another Pipeline in ‘Oil War

Niger Delta Rebels Say They Hit Another Pipeline in ‘Oil War’

Published: September 20, 2008

DAKAR, Senegal — Militants in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria said Saturday that they had hit another oil pipeline, continuing a streak of attacks that have badly damaged the country’s largest oil producer, Royal Dutch Shell.

On Friday, the Anglo-Dutch oil company said it would declare force majeure as a result of a spate of recent attacks aimed at its infrastructure. Shell said it was investigating the most recent claim of an attack by militants on a major pipeline at Buguma Front in Rivers State, but that it could not confirm it.

Violence has escalated in the Niger Delta in recent weeks as armed groups claiming to seek greater autonomy and wealth for the impoverished region have carried out an escalating series of attacks on oil installations and military facilities.

A group calling itself the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta has claimed responsibility for the attacks. The group’s spokesman, who goes by the nom de guerre Jomo Gbomo, has sent e-mail messages to reporters in recent days vowing that his group will carry out an “oil war.”

The group says it will fan out and attack oil installations of other companies in neighboring states and “will continue to nibble every day at the oil infrastructure in Nigeria until the oil exports reach zero.”

Nigeria is Africa’s top petroleum producer, but the attacks have stopped about 150,000 barrels per day of production and have reduced Nigeria’s overall output to less than two million barrels per day. Nigeria is the world’s eighth-largest exporter of oil and the fourth-largest supplier to the United States.

Nigeria’s president, Umaru Yar’Adua, has tried a variety of measures to cool tensions in the region. He tried to convene a summit on the conflict and development issues in the Niger Delta, and announced plans to create a cabinet position to address to the region’s problems. But the government has also prosecuted a more aggressive military strategy, carrying out deadly raids on suspected militia hide-outs.

The Niger Delta, a labyrinth of rivers and creeks on the southern coast, is the poorest region of Nigeria despite earning billions of dollars in oil revenue every year.

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