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Militants Hit Nigeria Oil Facilities

Two pipelines are damaged by explosions, and an offshore supply convoy is attacked.

July 14, 2006|From the Associated Press

YENAGOA, Nigeria — Twin explosions hit oil installations belonging to an Italian company in Nigeria's volatile southeastern delta region, government officials said Thursday.

Elsewhere, militants attacked 11 boats carrying supplies to Chevron's offshore oil fields Wednesday, killing four navy sailors who were escorting the convoy, Brig. Gen. Alfred Ilogho said Thursday.

The militants also seized 40 people and held them overnight. The captives and the 11 boats were released early Thursday, Chevron spokesman Deji Haastrup said, and the incident did not affect oil production.

One of the two blasts Wednesday blew apart an 18-inch oil pipeline at the Clough Creek Tepidapa flow station, and heavy spillage was reported, said Dikivie Ekiogha, an oil industry advisor to the state governor.

Another local official said the second blast hit a 10-inch riverside pipeline in Lagoagbene.

Nigerian officials said the oil installations belonged to Italian oil giant Agip, which said it had repaired minor damage with only a small loss of oil.

In Rome, Agip's parent company issued a statement denying a report in the Nigerian Guardian newspaper that the blasts caused a loss of 120,000 barrels of oil a day.

The company did not say what caused the damage.

The pipelines carry oil to an export terminal in Bayelsa state, which normally exports about 200,000 barrels a day.

Militant assaults on installations this year in the Niger Delta, the main oil-producing area, have cut more than 20% of Nigeria's daily exports of 2.5 million barrels and helped drive up world prices.

The militant groups say they are fighting for local control of oil revenue by the impoverished inhabitants of the region.

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