Nigerian Avengers claim pipeline attack in oil region

Warri - Nigerian militant group the Niger Delta Avengers said it had attacked a Chevron pipeline as a warning to international oil groups not to repair damaged infrastructure pending talks with militants.

The attack comes just days before the militants are set to talk with Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari's government about ending the renewed sabotage strangling oil production and hammering the economy.

"Today at about 03:45 our strike team 06 took down Chevron Escravos export pipeline at Escravos offshore," an NDA statement said.

"This action is to further warn all international oil companies that when we warn that there should be no repairs pending negotiation/dialogue with the people of the Niger Delta, it means there should be no repairs," said the group's spokesman Mudoch Agbinibo.

US oil firm Chevron, the operator of the pipeline, was not available for comment.

Ofe Nene, a community leader from Ugborodo, confirmed the attack, saying the "blast occurred last night at an offshore location."

A security officer told AFP there had been an oil spill following the incident.

Peace talks 

"For now, we can't confirm if it was as a result of militant attack or rupture on the pipeline, but all I can say is that there is a spill in the area from a damaged pipeline belonging to Chevron Nigeria Limited."

A burgeoning number of militant groups are sabotaging Nigeria's oil infrastructure in their quest for a bigger cut of the country's massive oil wealth for the Niger delta people in the southern swamplands.

The Avengers, blamed for slashing the country's production from 2.2 million barrels per day to a low of 1.4 earlier this year, announced a ceasefire in August by accepting a government truce.

But then another group, the Niger Delta Greenland Justice Mandate (NDGJM), stepped up its attacks.

President Buhari's government is scheduled to hold peace talks with the militants and prominent Niger delta leaders in Abuja on October 31 to end the unrest.

Nigeria, which depends on oil sales for 70 per cent of its government revenue, is struggling to fight its way out of a recession as a result of the globally low price of crude and the ongoing attacks.

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