/ 3 May 2008

Shell shuts more Nigerian oil after rebel attack

Royal Dutch Shell shut down more of its production in Nigeria after a fresh militant attack on Saturday on a flowstation in the restive Niger Delta, where local militants have stepped up a campaign of violence.

The bombing of the Shell facilities in Nigeria’s southern Bayelsa state, the fifth militant attack in just over a month, came a day after a federal court ruled that one of the leaders of the rebel Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (Mend), Henry Okah, should be tried in secret.

The ruling prompted a threat of reprisals from Mend, which has already knocked 164 000 barrels a day off Shell’s production in Nigeria with a pipeline bombing last month.

”A few oil delivery lines are affected and some oil has spilled into the environment,” a Shell spokesperson said. ”We are mobilising containment booms to stop the spread of oil and have also shut in some production volumes.”

Security sources said that three wells had been blown up in the attack, as well as other equipment.

The Mend attacks and an eight-day strike by Exxon Mobil workers which ended on Thursday had temporarily halved oil production from Nigeria — the world’s eighth largest exporter — helping to push prices to record highs on Monday to about $120 a barrel.

Exxon Mobil is returning production to normal levels of around 800 000 bpd, but has not yet announced the end of a force majeure declared on Monday. – Reuters