Nigerian militants attack Eni oil pipeline in delta

Mon Feb 6, 2012 7:45am GMT

By Tife Owalabi

YENAGOA, Nigeria (Reuters) - A Nigerian militant group based in the oil-producing Niger Delta said it attacked an oil pipeline owned by Italian firm Eni on Sunday, a strike the military said was the work of criminal gangs.

Witnesses reported a fire on the oil and gas group's Nembe-Brass pipeline late on Saturday, and ENI said the damage would mean the loss of about 4,000 barrels of oil equivalent a day.

A statement sent to media said it was from the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), formerly Nigeria's main militant threat and responsible for years of attacks on the oil industry until a 2009 amnesty.

Under the amnesty thousands of militants gave up their weapons, joined training schemes and drew stipends. Security sources say remaining gangs in the Niger Delta do not have the capacity to do the damage seen in the past, which at its height cut more than a third of the OPEC-member's output.

Several false threats purporting to be from MEND have been sent in the past and most recent damage caused to Nigeria's oil infrastructure has been done by gangs stealing oil for illicit refining and sale, rather than due to militant strikes.

"On Saturday the 4th of February at 1930hrs, fighters of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (M.E.N.D) attacked and destroyed the Agip (ENI) trunk line at Brass in Bayelsa State in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria," the emailed statement said.

"This relatively insignificant attack is a reminder of our presence in the creeks of the Niger Delta and a sign of things to come."

Bayelsa, the home state of President Goodluck Jonathan, is due to hold a governorship election next week.   Continued...

A logo of Italy's oil and gas major Eni in a file photo.  REUTERS/Daniele La Monaca
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