Militants have blown up a Chevron oil pipeline at Escravos in Nigeria’s oil producing Niger Delta region, forcing the company to shut down production in nearby oil fields, Nigerian security agencies have confirmed.
The region’s main militant group – Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) – has also confirmed the attack, saying a ”group of angry youths” carried it out.
The attack has further cut the country’s oil production by 120,000 barrels per day.
Second major attack after war declaration
It was the second attack in three days, coming after Thursday’s shock attack on Shell’s deep offshore Bonga oil field, which forced the company to shut down the 200,000bpd facility.
MEND said the latest attack was on the Chevron Abiteye-Olero crude oil pipeline.
”The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta wishes to commend these patriotic youths who we are now empowering with more powerful explosives and new techniques to destroy additional pipelines inside Delta state,” MEND said in a statement e-mailed to journalists Saturday.
Meanwhile, MEND has scoffed at President Umaru Yar’Adua’s directive to the nation’s security agencies to clamp down on the militants, describing the directive as ”a declaration of war.”*
Declaration an empty threat and a joke
”The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) considers the empty threat made by an illegal commander-in-chief of an inept armed forces of Nigeria as a joke.
”For underrating our capabilities, the military has been ridiculed world wide after the attack on Bonga. If they want to further expose their weaknesses, then we challenge them to launch an attack on any of our positions,” the group boasted in an earlier e-mail message.
It said any attack on a militant position ”is tantamount to a declaration of oil war. The type of war they are expecting is far from what we plan to engage in”.
The string of attacks comes ahead of plans by the federal government to organise, next week, a summit of stakeholders to find a lasting solution to the Niger Delta crisis.
MEND had said the summit will not achieve anything unless its leader, Henry Okah – who is currently being tried for treason – is freed and allow to participate. Panapress.