Militants blow up oil pipelines

July 8, 2009

, LAGOS, July 8  – Militants in Nigeria\’s Niger Delta region said they had blown up two key oil pipelines in the region operated by the Anglo-Dutch oil giant Shell and the Italian group Agip.

The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) said in a statement it blew up the pipelines in a pre-dawn attack in Bayelsa state as part of a campaign to cripple the nation\’s main industry.

"The Agip pipeline which connects the Agip Brass terminal was sabotaged at Nembe creek while the Shell Nembe creek line was done at Asawo village, all in Bayelsa state," the militants said.

Shell and Agip were not immediately available for comment.

It was the seventh in a series of attacks on oil installations in just under two weeks since the Nigerian government extended an amnesty offer aimed at ending a three-and-half-year insurgency.

Unrest in the Niger Delta costs Nigeria hundreds of thousands of barrels a day in lost crude oil production. Militants say they are fighting for a greater share of the oil wealth.

MEND, the strongest of the groups which have been fighting in the region since 2006, has targeted Anglo-Dutch oil giant Shell, America\’s Chevron and Italian group Agip.

Nigeria, the world\’s eighth largest exporter, was Africa\’s leading oil producer but it is currently neck-and-neck with Angola since the troubles in the Niger Delta started.

Africa\’s most populous country relies on oil for more than 90 percent of its export earnings.

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