Bomb attacks on oil pipelines cause massive spill in Nigeria

By Hilary Uguru, Associated Press

Multiple bombings of Agip oil pipelines have caused thousands of barrels of oil to pollute waterways, farms and fishing grounds in Nigeria's southern Bayelsa state.

WARRI, Nigeria (AP) — Multiple bombings of Agip oil pipelines have caused thousands of barrels of oil to pollute waterways, farms and fishing grounds in Nigeria's southern Bayelsa state, residents said Monday.

Oil flowed unchecked for two days, according to fishermen who complained that a clean-up has not yet started.

A spokesman for Italian parent company ENI said 16,000 barrels of oil per day were lost and the company Monday began working to resume production. The official, whose job rules do not allow him to be quoted by name, offered no other details.

The spill is "massive — the biggest in years," community leader Eke-Spiff Erempagamo told The Associated Press. He said it covers Orukari, Golubokiri, Kpongbokiri and other communities in the Brass area.

Residents blamed the explosions on Thursday and Friday on militants who want the polluted oil producing states to get a bigger share of revenues.

Similar attacks a week earlier on gas and oil installations near southern Escravos terminal are costing Nigeria $2.4 million a day in lost power and gas, the government said before restricted supply forced the closure of two of Nigeria's five refineries.

The attacks came after a court ordered the arrest of a former oil warlord accused of corruption. He has denied his henchmen are responsible for the pipeline attacks.

The Niger Delta had been relatively peaceful since a 2009 amnesty for militants which paid them to guard the oil installations they once attacked. Until the amnesty, the conflict was taking 1,000 lives a year and had slashed production of Africa's biggest oil producer by 40 percent.

Nigeria's government is preoccupied with an Islamic extremist uprising in the northeast and an economy battered by slumped oil prices.

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