Nigerian Rebels Confirm Attack on Refinery Pipeline

Nigeria’s main militant group, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, said its fighters blew up a pipeline that supplies crude to the country’s Warri Refinery.

The attack on the link to the 125,000-barrel-a-day refinery took place on Nov. 21, Jomo Gbomo, a spokesman for the group known as MEND, said in an e-mailed statement today. The “attack and similar attacks on pipelines which will take place within the next few days” are to show “the futility of wasting the nations resources in combating militancy without addressing the underlying causes of agitation in the Niger Delta.”

A pipeline belonging to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corp. was sabotaged, Levi Ajuonuma, a spokesman for the state-owned energy company, said yesterday without giving details on the operations of the refinery. Nigeria is the fifth-largest source of U.S. oil imports.

The southern Niger delta, which is home to nation’s oil and gas industry, has been hit by a surge of violence in recent months after a period of relative calm that followed a government amnesty in 2009 and the disarming of thousands of militant fighters. In response to the attacks, the Nigerian army ordered an offensive against rebels last week.

The pipeline that supplies crude to the plant in Warri is also the source of oil for the refinery in the northern city of Kaduna. The 110,000-barrel-a-day Kaduna refinery is operating after a minor glitch, Ajuonuma said.

Fuel Imports

Nigeria’s four state-run oil refineries are producing at about 30 percent of capacity, the Department of Petroleum Resources that oversees the country’s oil and gas industry said on Nov. 15. Africa’s biggest crude producer relies on fuel imports for more than 70 percent of its domestic needs, according to the Petroleum Ministry.

MEND says it is fighting for local control of oil revenue by the ethnic minorities of the delta, alleging domination by Nigeria’s majority ethnic groups.

Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Exxon Mobil Corp., Chevron Corp., Total SA and Eni SpA run joint ventures with NNPC that pump most of the West African nation’s oil.

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