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Home >> World
UPDATED: 19:19, March 01, 2006
Writethru: Explosion blows up oil pipeline in Nigeria's oil-rich region
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An explosion in oil-rich Gbaramatu Kingdom in the Niger Delta blew up oil pipelines on Wednesday leading to the spilling of massive, but yet to be specified volume of oil.

Residents of Gbaramatu community alleged that the explosion was from an un-detonated bomb used in February by men of "Operation Restore Hope" in the community while destroying barges belonging to illegal oil bunkers.

The "Operation Restore Hope" is the military task force assigned by the Nigerian government to stop oil thieves and ensure that peace is restored in the turbulent Niger Delta.

No representative from the "Operation Restore Hope" was available for comments at the time of this report.

Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) is the major oil company operating in the area.

However, a SPDC public relations official who refused to be identified told Xinhua that he had not received any information about it.

Shell and Gbaramatu Kingdom had been having a face-off since January, leading to the abduction of nine expatriate oil workers of Houston, Texas-based oil service company, Wilbros Group.

The oil service company was laying pipelines for Shell when its workers were abducted. The nine hostages, including three Americans, two Egyptians, two Thais, one Briton and one Filipino, were seized on February 18 by militants belonging to the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND).

A government committee headed by James Ibori, governor of the southern state of Delta, was set up immediately after the seizure to secure the speedy release of the hostages through dialogue.

The MEND, however, in an email statement to Xinhua on Monday, said they "have had no contact with the Ibori led committee and have no intention of doing so."

"Recently we intimated the media of our willingness to release all low value hostages. The Delta state government today (Monday) capitalized on this suggestion, claiming we had undertaken to release the hostages in batches. This is a fraudulent claim," it said.

"In this regard, the suggested release of any hostage has been suspended indefinitely," it stated.

Recent attacks by the militants on oil facilities in the west African country, the largest oil producer in sub-Sahara Africa, has cut production by 455,000 barrels per day (bpd) of production, or 19 percent the country's total output, and help push up world oil prices.

Source: Xinhua


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