Oil attack puts Nigeria in sticky place


STEVE CHIOTAKIS: A major militant group in Nigeria said it attacked a Royal Dutch Shell oil platform early this morning. Authorities say they’re doing all they can to quell the violence there. But to no avail so far. Our Africa bureau correspondent Gretchen Wilson looks at what they’ve done so far.

GRETCHEN WILSON: The militant group called the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta says it blew up Shells Forcados platform. Shell has only confirmed that it has shut down some of its operations.

Late last week, President Umaru Yar’Adua offered amnesty to the militants. He said they would escape prosecution if they handed over their weapons. Some accepted the deal. But today’s explosion suggests the governments attempts to get the oil industry back on track aren’t working.

Last month, Nigeria’s government tried a military offensive. That approach ended with the offer of amnesty. Nigeria once dominated oil production in Africa. But the recent bombings have destroyed so much infrastructure, that the country is hemorrhaging about a million barrels of oil a day or a full third of its capacity. It’s not yet clear whether the new attack will mean the offer of amnesty will be pulled off the table.

I’m Gretchen Wilson for Marketplace.

All reporting by Gretchen L. Wilson, © 2009

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