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25

Nigerian Oil Pipeline Sabotaged

A Nigerian crude oil pipeline was sabotaged in the Niger Delta while 22 Filipinos were arrested after their ship was intercepted for carrying stolen oil

A Nigerian crude oil pipeline was sabotaged in the Niger Delta while 22 Filipinos were arrested after their ship was intercepted for carrying stolen oil, a military spokesman said Saturday.

A crude oil pipeline that feeds into the Chevron-operated Escravos export terminal in Delta state was attacked late on Friday. No group has claimed responsibility.

"The details are still scanty and we are gathering more information," spokesman Rabe Abubakar said.

A Chevron spokesman said production had been shut down but did not give any figures. One security source said 100,000 barrels per day of the OPEC member's oil output had been cut because of the attack.

Attacks by militants and criminal gangs have cut Nigeria's oil production by a fifth since early 2006.

Security sources said the pipeline was located in Abiteye, where community members have attacked oil facilities in the past.

Armed youths blew up the Abiteye-Olero crude pipeline in June, forcing Chevron to cut around 120,000 bpd for nearly a month.

Violence in the Niger Delta stems from a complex set of factors including poverty, lack of basic services, corruption among government officials and security forces, resentment towards foreign oil companies and political thuggery.

Networks of armed gangs have taken advantage of the breakdown in law and order to steal industrial quantities of crude oil -- known locally as "bunkering" -- part of an illegal international trade worth millions of dollars a day.

In a separate incident, the military said its navy had arrested 22 Filipinos after intercepting a vessel suspected of carrying stolen crude oil in the delta, the heart of Nigeria's oil sector.

Gunboats intercepted the MT Akuada in the waters off of Escravos, the same region where Friday's pipeline attack occurred.

"Preliminary investigation conducted onboard the ship revealed that the ... product it was conveying was illegally bunkered from Bedfut point in Delta state by crude oil thieves," the military's Abubaker said, adding that the vessel held 12,000 tonnes of oil.

Some estimates put the amount of crude stolen from the Niger Delta at 100,000 bpd, equivalent to around $5.6 million (3.77 million pounds) daily or $2 billion a year at current prices. It is shipped out of Nigeria and sold on the international market.

Author: Jo Amey