Shell Nigeria reopens one of two attacked pipelines Sat Dec 24, 2005 2:56 PM GMT
LAGOS (Reuters) - Royal Dutch Shell has reopened one of two pipelines in remote southern Nigeria that were damaged in a suspected dynamite attack and is working to fix the second one on Saturday, a company spokesman said.
The firm has also reopened one of two oilfields that were shut to curb a huge blaze caused by Tuesday's attack on the pipelines in the Niger Delta by unknown gunmen, which killed 11 people and cut 180,000 barrels per day (bpd) in output.
"Kolo Creek, one of the oilfields that was shut down, has been reopened. The 24-inch pipeline has been fixed and we are doing the clamping today on the 28-inch one," a spokesman for the Nigerian arm of Shell said.
He said some crude was flowing through the 24-inch pipeline and the volume of the outage had gone down although there was no new figure available yet on how much production was still down. "We are building up gradually," he said.
He added that a force majeure, a technical release from honouring contracts, was still in place.
The two pipelines, in the remote Opobo channel in Rivers state, flow to the Bonny Light export terminal. A 180,000 bpd outage represents 7 percent of output from Nigeria, the world's eighth-biggest crude oil exporter.
A previously unheard-of group calling itself the Martyrs' Brigade has claimed responsibility for the attack and threatened further violence against the oil industry in the delta.
It is not uncommon for militant groups in the delta to issue such threats and they are not always followed by action. The government said the Martyrs' Brigade and other leads were being investigated.
The group says it is a breakaway faction of the Niger Delta People's Volunteer Force (NDPVF), an ethnic Ijaw militant group whose firebrand leader Mujahid Dokubo-Asari is in jail awaiting a treason trial for calling for the disintegration of Nigeria.
The NDPVF issued a statement of its own on Saturday, disassociating itself from the Martyrs' Brigade. It said it had negotiated with fellow militants to try and keep the peace in the delta but "the seekers of armed struggle seem to have finally had their way".
It called on the government to ensure that Asari received a fair trial regardless of events in the delta.
Sabotage and violence targeted at the oil industry are frequent in the delta, a vast region of mangrove creeks and swamps that accounts for almost all of Nigeria's 2.4 million bpd production.
Most of the delta's estimated 20 million inhabitants live in extreme poverty alongside an industry that has generated billions of petrodollars for foreign oil firms and the faraway Nigerian goverment, seen as corrupt and oppressive.
The resentment of local communities and a breakdown of law and order have given rise to kidnappings, sabotage, oil theft, conflicts between rival communities and ethnic groups over oil-rich land, and repression by the Nigerian armed forces.
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