(Updates with Bonga size in second paragraph, Shell declining to comment in fourth.)
Oct. 21 (Bloomberg) -- Nigeria’s Movement for the Emancipation of The Niger Delta rebels said it plans to escalate a violent campaign of disrupting oil production in Africa’s biggest producer by targeting offshore fields.
The group in 2008 attacked Royal Dutch Shell Plc’s Bonga field about 120 kilometers (75 miles) off the country’s coast and caused its temporary closure. Bonga, Nigeria’s first deepwater discovery, has the capacity to produce 220,000 barrels of oil daily, about 10 percent of the country’s crude output.
“Offshore operations are not a safe haven,” the group said by e-mail yesterday. “MEND has visited Bonga before and we will do it again when the time is right.”
MEND has carried out attacks on oil facilities since April when it said it would resume a program of disruption it has called operation “Hurricane Exodus.” Precious Okolobo, a spokesman for Shell in Nigeria, declined to comment citing company policy of not commenting on security issues.
Attacks including kidnappings and bombing of oil installations by groups including MEND cut more than 28 percent of Nigeria’s oil output between 2006 and 2009, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The violence declined after thousands of fighters accepted a government amnesty offer in 2009 and disarmed.
‘Hurricane Exodus continues to gather strength as it sweeps through the swamps and creeks in the Niger Delta leaving seriously damaged the Trans Niger and Feeder pipelines, harassed security operatives and scurrying oil workers in its wake,’’ MEND said.
--With assistance from Elisha Bala-Gbogbo in Abuja. Editors: Ben Holland, Antony Sguazzin