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Militants Seize Oil Facility in Southern Nigeria


Armed attackers are occupying an oil pipeline station in the Southern Niger Delta. The invaders struck late Tuesday following a dispute with the Italian oil company Agip, owner of the facility.

Officials of Bayelsa state are meeting with militants who seized the Agip pumping station Tuesday. Talks Wednesday did not produce a breakthrough, but officials are hoping the crisis could be resolved soon.

The militants who came from the local Ogbainbiri community were angry that the Italian oil firm had allegedly refused their demands. Samuel Oyadongha, a journalist in the Bayelsa state capital, Yenegoa, told VOA what the grievances were.

"It has to do with communal problem. It has to do with the refusal of Agip to clean up the oil spill in the area," he said. "There was an oil spill some time ago and up till now the company has not carried out cleanup exercise there. The people have also been complaining that on the platform they have only three indigenous as casual workers and that they want a shore protection project around their community because of erosion."

Agip is Nigeria's fourth-largest oil producer and shutting down its pipeline leads to a loss of about 35,000 barrels of crude oil daily.

Several kidnappings and attacks on oil facilities by militants have occurred in the oil-rich Niger Delta since the start of this year.

Oil production in Nigeria, Africa's largest producer, has been cut by more than 500,000 barrels per day, resulting in revenue losses of about $35 million daily.

Shell oil company announced Wednesday that a pipeline leak had forced it to reduce output from the Bonny oil field, Nigeria's second-biggest oil field.

Shell has now cut production in Nigeria by more than 650,000 barrels per day, a setback to the company's efforts to expand output.

Nigerian officials are worried that the attacks may worsen with the approach of general elections next year.

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