p0296 BC-Nigeria-OilUnrest 2ndLd-Writethru 04-25 0471 routed by
Nigerian militants report another oil pipeline bombing
Eds: UPDATES with workers on strike at ExxonMobil. Moving for general news and financial services.
AP Graphic NIGERIA OIL UNREST
By EDWARD HARRIS
Associated Press Writer
LAGOS, Nigeria (AP) — A main militant group behind a string of recent attacks in Nigeria’s southern oil region said Friday it has sabotaged another pipeline — the fourth in the past week — as key producer ExxonMobil reported workers on strike.
White-collar workers at ExxonMobil Corp. — one of the largest producers in Nigeria, with an output of about 2 million barrels a day in crude — have "commenced a safe and orderly shut-in of production" to push for more pay, the company said in a statement.
It didn’t specify how much production had been lost, and officials didn’t immediately reply to queries.
Also Friday, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, or MEND, said its fighters hit a pipeline late Thursday in southern Rivers State, bringing to four the number of pipelines the group claims it has blown up in the past week.
The group said in a statement that the pipeline belongs to a Royal Dutch Shell PLC joint venture. A Shell spokesman had no immediate comment Friday.
MEND says it is fighting to force the government to give more oil industry revenue it controls to its region, which remains deeply poor despite four decades of oil production in the area.
The militants have stepped up activities as one of the group’s reputed leaders, Henry Okah, faces trial on terrorism and treason charges. The group emerged two years ago and quickly established itself as the region’s most effective militant organization.
But crime and militancy are intermingled in the region, with gunmen stealing crude oil for resale or robbing banks one day and battling security forces or blowing up oil infrastructure the next.
The southern Niger Delta, where the crude is pumped in Africa’s biggest oil industry, is traversed with pipes that carry oil from well heads via transfer stations and on to export terminals. The infrastructure in the vast region of creeks and swamps is virtually unguarded.
Since Okah’s arrest, the group has not launched any of the coordinated, military-style armed raids on staffed facilities that originally made it notable.
Shell confirmed three attacks over the past week, and announced it may not be able to meet its obligations to ship some 169,000 barrels per day from Nigeria over the next few weeks. The company, one of the main operators in the country, has yet to report any production outages from the other attacks.
Those attacks helped send crude prices to historic highs on international markets.