Shell probing new claim of Nigeria pipeline attack
“We are investigating reports of an attack on our pipeline in the western Niger delta,” Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) spokesman Precious Okolobo told AFP, without elaborating.
The Niger Delta Avengers (NDA), blamed for a wave of bombings on Nigeria’s oil infrastructure since the beginning of the year, earlier claimed responsibility for the attack.
“At 3:00 am today (0200 GMT Friday), @NDAvengers blow up the SPDC Forcados 48″ export line,” it said on its Twitter account.
The attack was carried out because Shell had refused to heed earlier warnings not to repair the pipeline, which was damaged in February, it added.
The NDA, which says it is seeking a fairer share of Nigeria’s oil wealth for the Niger delta people, has asked oil majors to leave the region.
It has also attacked facilities operated by US firm Chevron, Italy’s Eni and the state-run Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).
The army said on Thursday that six people, including two soldiers, were killed when militants attacked a boat belonging to the NNPC in the region, but the NDA denied involvement.
The deadly attack happened at about 5:50 pm (1650 GMT) on Wednesday in the Warri area of Delta state, which has seen a spate of attacks recently.
That followed two claimed NDA attacks on two supply pipelines in Bayelsa state on Wednesday and a warning it would bring oil production to a standstill in Nigeria unless its demands were met.
The upsurge in violence has seen Nigeria’s oil production fall to 1.4 million barrels per day — well below the budgeted for 2.2 million bpd.
The Avengers are believed to have sympathy for a former oil rebel leader who commanded militants in the region in the 2000s and who is now wanted on money laundering and corruption charges.
The Nigerian military has deployed gunboats and fighter jets to the creeks and swamps of the delta in search of the militants.