Attackers shut Agip flowstation in Nigeria - police

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Attackers shut Agip flowstation in Nigeria - police

Postby Richard Akindele » Wed Jul 26, 2006 1:39 pm

LAGOS (Reuters) - An oil flowstation operated by Italian firm Agip in southern Nigeria has been shut down after a night-time raid by unknown attackers, police said on Wednesday.

The attackers targeted the Ogbabiri flowstation in Bayelsa state in the Niger Delta, the police commissioner of the state told Reuters. He did not have any information on whether any oil output was affected.

"It happened at 2 a.m. (0100 GMT). The flowstation has been shut. Military security was driven out of there," Hafiz Ringim said by telephone from the Bayelsa state capital Yenagoa.

An spokesman for Agip, a unit of Italian company Eni, declined to comment.

Alfred Ilogho, commander of the armed forces in the western Niger Delta, said he had received information suggesting the attack stemmed from a dispute between the local community and Agip.

"It has to do with the community and the company maybe not meeting their demands," he said. However, he said that Ogbabiri is not in his area of responsibility and the army spokesman for the eastern delta was not reachable.

Disputes between oil firms and local residents demanding jobs and investments for their communities are frequent in the Niger Delta. Companies often sign memoranda of understanding with what they call "host communities" and disputes tend to arise when the residents feel promises have not been kept.

A quarter of Nigerian oil output has been shut down since February following a wave of attacks on oil facilities by militants demanding greater local control over oil revenues and compensation for environmental damage.

The country is the world's eighth biggest oil exporter and Africa's biggest producer.

There was no indication on Wednesday of any link between the attack on the Agip flowstation and the campaign of attacks by the militant Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND).

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Militant youths hold 40 oil workers hostages in Nigeria

Postby Richard Akindele » Thu Jul 27, 2006 11:05 am

Hundreds of aggrieved youths on Wednesday morning attacked the Ogboinbiri Flow Station of the Agip Oil Company in Nigeria's southern state of Bayelsa and held about 40 workers at the station hostages, local newspaper reported on Thursday.

The Punch reported that the incident occurred as a result of the Italian oil giant's alleged refusal to enter into a new Memorandum of Understanding with the Ogboinbiri community following the recent expiration of a former one.

A middle-aged indigene of the coastal community who craved anonymity was quoted as saying that the military personnel on guard at the station were helpless.

He maintained that "the flow station would not be reopened until the management of the oil company agreed to sign a fresh MOU " with the community which is also asking for more jobs.

An aide of Bayelsa State Commissioner for Environment Victor Akenge said on condition of anonymity confirmed the incident, saying that a team comprising the commissioner, some directors of the ministry and other top government officials was about leaving for Ogboinbiri on Wednesday afternoon to assess the situation.

The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) had on Tuesday threatened to attack U.S. oil major Chevron over an allegation that the oil firm planned to invite military personnel to attack Ijaw villages.

Agip is Nigeria's fourth largest oil producer. The shutting of the Ogbainbiri Flow Station leads to a loss of 35,000 bpd.

Since the beginning of this year, more kidnappings and attacks on oil facilities by militants have occurred in the oil-rich Niger Delta, which have forced the largest oil producer in Africa to cut production by 500,000 bpd, which in monetary terms might have resulted in revenue losses of about 35 million U.S. dollars daily.

All of the hostages, however, have been released unharmed after negotiations with the militants as the common reason for the abduction is displeasure over the sorry fate of the Niger Delta region and its indigenes.

Source: Xinhua
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