Tue, Jun 16, 2009 - Page 6 News List

Rebels claim attacks on Chevron facilities

AFP , LAGOS

Rebels in Nigeria’s restive Niger Delta yesterday claimed more attacks against facilities run by US oil giant Chevron and warned FIFA against letting Nigeria host the under-17 World Cup tournament.

The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) also threatened to extend its operations to other states in the oil-rich region.

The MEND statement said they started a massive fire that had destroyed the Abiteye flow station and blew up two other Chevron facilities there early yesterday.

Likening its operations to a hurricane, the group said it would be extending its actions beyond Delta state.

It would move “into the neighboring states of Bayelsa and Rivers before passing through the remaining states of Ondo, Edo, and Akwa Ibom then finally head off-shore,” MEND said.

And it added: “We will want to use this opportunity to advice FIFA to have a re-think about Nigeria hosting the under-17 World Cup tournament at this time, as the safety of international players and visitors cannot be guaranteed due to the current unrest.”

The statement also called on people from the southern Niger Delta region living in the north of the country to return home within the next eight weeks.

MEND said it was issuing the warning “because a major event will occur in that part of the country and reprisal attacks directed at them cannot be ruled out.”

It gave the same advice to northern Nigerians living in the Niger Delta.

Yesterday’s operations were the latest in a series of MEND attacks on Niger Delta facilities run by the US oil giant designed to demonstrate that a recent government crackdown in the region has had no effect on its ability to operate.

One attack alone in May cost Chevron 100,000 barrels a day in lost production.

MEND, which says it wants a fairer distribution of oil wealth to local people, said it would keep up its operations until oil production in the country had been brought to a halt.

“We hope that by the time the oil and gas exports come to zero, Nigeria will maintain those positions from the export of groundnut oil,” it said.

Since 2006, MEND had been sabotaging the oil industry infrastructure and abducting oil workers, to the extent that it has seriously disrupted Nigeria’s oil production.

Overall, the unrest has caused oil production — Nigeria’s main export — to fall by nearly a third from 2.6 million barrels a day in 2006 to 1.8 million barrels a day.

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