Video: Militants strike Nigerian oil line

updated 6/21/2008 12:31:53 PM ET 2008-06-21T16:31:53

Chevron Corp. said Saturday that a breached Nigerian pipeline has prompted the company to shut down its onshore oil production.

Nigerian media reported that militants had sabotaged the pipeline in the southern Niger Delta late Thursday. But the region's most-potent armed group, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, told The Associated Press it was not involved.

U.S.-based Chevron said in a statement Saturday that it shut off its onshore production after the pipeline breach to protect the environment, but gave no firm figures on how much production would be lost. Oil industry officials said the loss would be around 120,000 barrels per day.

The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, which is known as MEND, attacked a remote offshore facility run by Royal Dutch Shell on Thursday, underscoring the vulnerability of Africa's biggest oil producer.

That attack slashed about 200,000 barrels per day of Nigerian crude oil production, adding to the 20 percent of production already shut down by militant attacks.

While bombings on Nigeria's extensive and virtually unguarded pipeline infrastructure are common, high-seas attacks like Thursday's are rare and the assault was the furthest-ever offshore incident involving militants.

Militants stepped up their activities in early 2006, with MEND emerging as the region's best-trained armed gang.

Their campaign of bombings and kidnappings seeks to force Nigeria's central government to send more oil-industry revenues it controls to the southern region, which is deeply impoverished despite its great natural bounty.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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