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Attacks hamper oil deliveries from Nigeria

MILAN, Jun 24 – Italian oil giant Eni said on Wednesday that some oil deliveries from Nigeria face interruption after an attack on a pipeline to a major export terminal there.

"We have declared a state of \’force majeure\’ following the attack," an Eni spokesman said.

"Force majeure" is a term in a contract that can be invoked when conditions beyond the control of the company make it impossible to fulfill the terms it originally agreed to.

Nigeria\’s main militant group destroyed a pipeline to the Brass terminal, operated by Eni unit Agip, on Friday, the latest in a series of actions against oil installations in the south of the country.

Eni said the attack resulted in total lost production of some 33,000 barrels per day, of which 6,000 barrels belonged to the company.

On Sunday, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) said it had launched three attacks in one day against Royal Dutch Shell facilities as part of a campaign to cripple Nigeria\’s multi-billion-dollar oil industry.

Last Wednesday, the Anglo-Dutch oil group said it was forced to defer shipments of crude from its Nigerian Forcados exports terminal for two months due to delays in repairing a key pipeline blown up in March.

Back in February, it declared force majeure on shipments from its main Nigerian Bonny terminal due to increased attacks by rebels on key facilities.

MEND earlier this month declared an "all-out" war against the oil majors.

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It has staged numerous attacks on international oil facilities in southern Nigeria as part of a campaign since December 2005 to get what it calls a fairer distribution of the region\’s oil wealth for the local Ogoni people.

Unrest in the Niger Delta has substantially reduced Nigeria\’s oil output, putting pressure on crucial export earnings.

The country\’s daily oil output currently stands at 1.8 million barrels, according to the June report of the International Energy Agency, considerably lower than the 2.6 million barrels a day produced in 2006.

Nigeria was Africa\’s leading oil producer but it has been overtaken by Angola since the troubles in the Niger Delta started.

Nigerian President Umaru Yar\’Adua has promised to unveil details of an amnesty package for militants within a week, as part of efforts to end the unrest and save the crucial oil and gas industry.

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