Nigerian militants target Chevron, Shell oil installations; capture ship

Close on the heels of an attack on the installations of Anglo-Dutch oil giant Shell, Nigerian militants today claimed to have destroyed a strategic manifold owned by US oil group Chevron.

"The strategic Okan manifold, which controls about 80 per cent of Chevron Nigeria Limited off-shore crude oil to its BOP crude loading platform, was blown up at about 2045 hours on Sunday, 5 June 2009," the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (Mend) said in a statement.

The militants also seized a ship carrying chemicals and are holding the crew of six. Mend said the ship was captured near the Escravos oil base.

The ship has a crew of six made up of a Russian captain and two engineers, two Filipinos and an Indian. The ship flew the flag of Singapore.

Mend said the ship was captured as the crew disregarded an earlier warning to keep away from the Niger Delta.

The group said the arrest of the crew and the capture of the ship are meant to serve as a warning to others that there are root issues that have to be resolved with the Nigerian government before normalcy can resume. There has been no further confirmation of the Mend statement.

Attacks by `Mend' and other groups, however, have severely cut Nigeria's oil output. Many criminal gangs have also taken advantage of the lawlessness in the area.