The FINANCIAL — Royal Dutch Shell has shut three oil flow stations in Nigeria's Niger Delta region after militants blew up one of its pipelines on January 30.
“We have shut in some flow stations which produce into the line and the leak has stopped,” Precious Okolobo, Shell’s spokesman in Nigeria, said in an e-mailed statement to Bloomberg. “Repair work will commence as soon as possible.”
The leak was detected Jan. 30, the same day the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, the main rebel group in the region, said it was ending an “indefinite cease-fire” after three months, according to Bloomberg. No group has claimed responsibility for sabotaging Shell’s pipeline.
The rebel group known as MEND said it was not "directly responsible" for the attack, reports the Reuters news agency. But an e-mailed statement said: "It was certainly a response to our order to resume hostilities by one of the various freelance groups we endorse."
Attacks by armed groups in the Niger River delta, home to Africa’s largest oil and gas industry, cut more than 25 percent of Nigeria’s crude production in the four years through 2009, Bloomberg reports. MEND said the government’s refusal to consider the region’s demands for “control of its resources and land” dashed hopes that the cease-fire would lead to peace.
MEND had extended last year a 60-day ceasefire warning that it would resume attacks on the oil industry and the Nigerian military if the government did not meet its key concerns, according to RTT News. MEND demands the Nigerian military's withdrawal from the Gbaramatu community in Delta State, and permission for displaced people to return home.
MEND announced the unilateral ceasefire after the Nigerian government released its leader Henry Okah on July 13, and dropped the treason charges against him in a bid to end years of rebel attacks on the oil industry, according to the same source. The militants, who demand that a part of the biggest African petroleum producing country's oil fortunes be shared among them and the impoverished local people, have been frequently attacking oil installations and kidnapping expatriate workers in the southern region, which saw a 20 per cent cut in Nigeria's oil production since 2006.