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Nigerian Militants Threaten New Attacks in Oil-Rich Niger Delta

Nigeria’s main militant group in the oil-rich Niger River delta said it’s planning more attacks after it damaged a pipeline belonging to a unit of Italy’s Eni SpA.

The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta said in an e-mailed statement today that the Feb. 4 attack affected 200,000 barrels a day. Rome-based Eni said yesterday it lost “around 4,000” barrels per day of “equity production” from the incident. The pipeline carries crude to an export terminal in the coastal town of Brass, about 250 kilometers (155 miles) southwest of the oil-industry hub of Port Harcourt, said MEND’s spokesman, Jomo Gbomo.

MEND said that in the next few weeks it would carry out “major attacks on oil installations to demonstrate to the world the helplessness of oil companies and the Nigerian military.”

Attacks by MEND and other militant groups in the Niger delta, home to Nigeria’s oil industry, cut the nation’s crude output by more than 28 percent from 2006 to 2009, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Disruptions eased after thousands of fighters, seeking a greater share of oil revenue for the region’s inhabitants, laid down their weapons and accepted an official amnesty. MEND refuses to disarm, saying the government hasn’t met its demands for control of the delta’s oil.

Nigeria is Africa’s top oil producer and the fifth-biggest source of U.S. crude imports. Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Exxon Mobil Corp., Chevron Corp., Total SA and Eni run joint ventures with the state oil company Nigerian National Petroleum Corp. that pump more than 90 percent of the country’s crude.

The Nigerian military has identified eight people who sabotaged the pipeline and they aren’t backed by the MEND leadership, spokesman Colonel Timothy Antigha said today in an e-mailed statement.

“For the avoidance of doubt, people who were the leadership of MEND are not responsible members of society, having accepted the amnesty,” he said.

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