Oil pipeline explodes in Nigeria

January 5, 2009

, LAGOS, January 5 – A pipeline belonging to Agip, a unit of Italian energy giant ENI, was blown up with dynamite in restive southern Nigeria, a military officer said on Sunday.

There were no casualties in the explosion which happened on Friday night, General Wuyep Rimtip, the military commander in charge of the southern oil-producing states of Bayelsa and Delta, told AFP.

Agip was not immediately available to comment on the scale of the damage caused by the attack, which hit the Odimodi-Ogulagha segment of the pipeline in Delta state.

No group immediately claimed responsibility.

"Given that dynamite was used I\’m working on the basis it was sabotage," Rimtip said, ruling out the possibility of an accidental explosion.

In a statement Sunday the most prominent armed group in the region, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), attributed the attack to local youths and congratulated them for carrying it out.

MEND insisted it was not involved in the attack, but said it "supports such actions from communities that watch their wealth flow away from right under their nose without anything to show for it".

For the past three years the southern Niger Delta region has been the scene of unrest as armed groups, claiming to be fighting for a larger share of oil revenue for local people, have attacked government and oil industry targets.

The unrest has cut Nigeria\’s crude production by a quarter, bring it to just over 2 million barrels a day at the end of 2008 from 2.6 million in 2006.

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