By Valentina Za and Joe Brock / Reuters
A crude oil pipeline owned by Italian oil and gas group Eni was attacked on Friday in Nigeria’s onshore Niger Delta and a militant group claimed the strike.
Attacks in the restive region have been fewer since an amnesty for militants in 2009, although large-scale oil theft and sporadic pipeline sabotage still occurs.
“We can confirm a pipeline, leading to Tebidaba, in the Clough-Creek area has been attacked,” an Eni spokeswoman said.
Eni’s unit Agip owns the Tebidaba-Brass pipeline, which has been subject to several attacks in recent years.
The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), which was the main militant group prior to the amnesty, claimed Friday’s attack and warned of more to come.
“At 0210 fighters of MEND attacked and destroyed one wellhead and one manifold on trunk lines belonging to Agip … more attacks to follow,” a statement e-mailed to reporters said.
MEND has been largely inactive since most of its militants agreed an amnesty with the government in 2009, ending a wave of attacks that at one stage cut oil production down by half.
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.
But a resurgence of militant activity is an unwelcome headache to President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration, whose security forces are already stretched by an Islamist insurgency raging in the north.