Reuters: Shell Nigeria pipeline still
blazing, output down: "Oil workers in boats and a helicopter circled a huge
pipeline blaze in remote southern Nigeria on Wednesday, surveying the damage
caused by a suspected dynamite attack that killed at least eight people.": "The
fire is still blazing. It's as high as a 10-storey building. There is thick
black smoke billowing," a Reuters witness said.": 21 Dec 2005
By Austin Ekeinde
ASAGBA OKWAN ASARAMA, Nigeria, Dec 21 (Reuters) - Oil workers in boats and a helicopter circled a huge pipeline blaze in remote southern Nigeria on Wednesday, surveying the damage caused by a suspected dynamite attack that killed at least eight people.
Tuesday's attack by unknown gunmen on the pipeline operated by Royal Dutch Shell <RDSa.L> <RDSb.L>, located in the Opobo Channel in the Niger Delta, caused a major slick and fire, cutting output by 170,000 barrels per day (bpd).
"The fire is still blazing. It's as high as a 10-storey building. There is thick black smoke billowing," a Reuters witness said.
A Shell spokesman said work was ongoing to determine the extent of the damage, and there was no estimate yet of how long the outage would last. It represents a 7 percent cut in output from the world's eighth biggest exporter of crude.
The nearby community of Asagba Okwan Asarama was deserted. About 20 huts, close to where Tuesday's blast ripped through the pipeline, were reduced to blackened ruins. A local fisherman, who was on the open sea when the blast took place, was desperately searching for his wife and four children. He said he did not know if they had fled or been killed in the explosion.
A local government official from Rivers state, where the community is located, said on Tuesday eight corpses had been recovered from the site and other people were missing.
Shell has closed two oilfields to help curb the fire.
The Niger Delta pumps almost all of Nigeria's 2.4 million bpd. Violence and sabotage targeting the oil industry are frequent in the vast region of mangrove swamps and creeks, where poor local communities feel cheated of the wealth extracted from their lands.
Industry sources have speculated that Tuesday's pipeline attack and two other recent security incidents at oil and gas installations in the delta could be part of a coordinated plan, though there is no certainty.
Motives could include revenge by supporters of the impeached governor of neighbouring Bayelsa state, who is due to face corruption charges on Wednesday, or frustration by oil thieves who have been hindered by a recent crackdown, sources say.
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