By Sunny Ofili
Niger Delta rebel group, Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) today attacked Qua Iboe terminal, Nigeria’s biggest oil terminal belonging to ExxonMobil Corp in what maybe an attempt to cripple the country’s oil export.
Gunshots were fired outside ExxonMobil Corp.’s main oil export terminal in Nigeria on Monday, officials said. No injuries were reported.
MEND confirmed that it carried out the brazen attack in an email to The Times of Nigeria and promised to release additional details of the attack later.
Oil operations at the Qua Iboe terminal in southern Nigeria were not suspended and the situation appeared to be calm later in the day, company spokeswoman Gloria Essien-Danner said.
Earlier, there had been reports that an armed group was advancing on the facility, which has the capacity to handle more than 500,000 barrels daily, making it Nigeria’s biggest export terminal.
Armed militants campaigning for a greater share of oil wealth in the oil-rich delta have stepped up attacks on oil installations in the past two years, cutting more than 20 percent of Nigeria’s oil exports of 2.5 million barrels daily.
Seven foreign oil workers were seized during an attack last year by militants on a residential compound housing ExxonMobil employees near the terminal. Two guards were killed during the attack and the kidnapped workers were freed after two weeks.
More than 150 foreign oil workers have been seized in attacks since this year alone in the southern oil region. Most were freed unharmed after the payment of ransom.
Nigeria is Africa’s leading oil exporter and one of the top five suppliers of U.S. oil imports.
Additional reports from AP