Nigeria rebels attack Shell pipeline in delta

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A Nigerian militant group says it has sabotaged a Royal Dutch Shell oil pipeline in the Niger Delta, the latest attack in its war against the military and the oil sector.

The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) said it sabotaged a Shell pipeline in southern Nigeria’s Bayelsa state last night, its first attack outside Delta state since the military last month declared its biggest offensive against rebels in years.

“MEND, in furtherance of Hurricane Piper Alpha … destroyed with high explosives a major crude oil trunk line in Bayelsa state belonging to Shell,” the group said in a statement.

It was not possible independently to confirm the attack. Shell officials and the military were not available for comment.

MEND, responsible for attacks that have led to a cut of one-fifth in Nigeria‘s oil production in the past three years, said the damaged pipeline was connected to the Tunu, Opukusu and Ugbotubu flow stations, which feeds into the Forcados export terminal.

Shell earlier yesterday extended a force majeure on its Forcados shipments for the rest of June and all of July as pipeline repairs have yet to be completed from an attack three months ago.

MEND, which says it is fighting for a fairer share of the region’s wealth, threatened on Monday to extend its attacks throughout the Niger Delta and to offshore oil facilities.

The militant group had focused its attacks on Chevron-operated oil pipelines and pumping stations in the last few weeks, forcing the U.S. energy company to shut down about 100,000 barrels per day of production in Africa‘s largest oil producer.

Militants have repeatedly targeted Shell and Chevron facilities in the past three years as many of their pipelines and oil pumping station are located in communities hostile to foreign oil firms.

Oil markets have largely shrugged off the latest violence, focusing attention instead on the broader global economy and its effect on energy demand.