The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) has claimed responsibility for Thursday’s attack on a Shell oil facility located offshore in Nigeria’s oil region, saying it also kidnapped an American working for oil services company Tidex, who will be released ‘in the coming hours’.
The attack on Shell’s 200,000bpd Bonga oil field, located offshore in Bayelsa state, Western Niger Delta, marked the first time such a distant offshore facility will be attacked by MEND militants since 2006, when they launched their violent campaign for a better deal for the oil region.
Spokesman for the Nigerian subsidiary of Shell, Precious Okolobo, and the spokesman of the military task force deployed in the oil region, Lt.-Col. Sagir Musa, have confirmed the attack.
MEND said in a statement emailed to the media that its target was the ”main computerized control room responsible for coordinating the entire crude oil export operations from the fields”.
”Our detonation engineers could not gain access to blow it up, but decided against smoking out the occupants by burning down the facility to avoid loss of life.
”However, our next visit will be different as the facility will not be spared. We therefore ask all workers in the Bonga fields to evacuate for their safety as the military cannot protect them,” MEND said.
The group continued: ”The location for today’s attack was deliberately chosen to remove any notion that off shore oil exploration is far from our reach. The oil companies and their collaborators do not have any place to hide in conducting their nefarious activities.
”We use this opportunity to ask the oil majors to evacuate their expatriate staff from Nigeria until the issues in the Niger Delta have been addressed and resolved. Oil and gas tankers are also warned to avoid Nigerian waters. They stand the risk of laden crude oil or natural gas tankers being attacked.”
Analysts said the attack was a major blow to Nigeria’s oil production of about 2 million bpd.
Earlier, MEND had rejected an offer of amnesty from the Nigerian government, saying it (government) was cannot be trusted. Panapress .