//Nigerian militants strike oil targets again

Nigerian militants strike oil targets again

Mon Feb 20, 2006 8:18 PM ET

WARRI, Nigeria (Reuters) – Nigerian militants blew up an oil pipeline and a military houseboat on Monday, extending a campaign of sabotage in the world’s eighth largest exporter which has already cut supplies by a fifth

The militants, who are holding nine foreign hostages, vowed to prevent Royal Dutch Shell from using the damaged Forcados tanker loading platform, which accounts for 15 percent of Nigerian exports, and threatened an even more devastating series of attacks on the whole region.

"Shell Nigeria can confirm that Koremo manifold on the Trans-Forcados pipeline was destroyed in fresh attacks early this morning. Also an abandoned house boat in the area was sunk," Shell said in a statement.

No new oil production was hit in the latest attacks, because Shell had already halted all 455,000 barrels a day, 19 percent of the OPEC member’s output, from the region after a string of raids on installations on Saturday.

The militants, who began their campaign in December, say they are fighting for more local control of the oil wealth of the Niger Delta, Nigeria’s far south which accounts for all of its petroleum wealth.

The militants snatched the hostages — three Americans, a Briton, two Egyptians, two Thais and one Filipino — from a barge operated by U.S. services company Willbros off the coast of Delta state, in the west of the vast wetlands region.

"We are going to continue with the destruction of oil facilities in Delta state while concluding arrangements for our wider attacks on the entire region," the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta said in an email.


North Sea Brent crude oil futures rose $1.70 to $61.59 a barrel on Monday in response to the attacks.

Over the weekend, Shell closed 340,000 barrels a day from fields feeding its Forcados platform, and another 115,000 barrels daily by evacuating the EA field as a precaution.

The company said it was waiting for the security situation to improve before trying to repair the Forcados platform, and militants vowed to attack any vessel that tried to use it.