Nigeria’s leading militant group claims to have destroyed a major pipeline operated by Shell, in its latest attack on the oil industry. The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta has hit pipelines, oil and gas plants almost every day for a week. Shell responded by declaring “force majeure,” which frees the company from contractual obligations on taxes and oil deliveries to clients.
The militants claim to be fighting to clean up the Delta region, after years of neglect and pollution, but the unrest is to a great extent fuelled by a lucrative trade in stolen oil.
Nigeria is Africa’s most populous country with 130 million people. It is one of the most important oil producing states on the continent, but the industry has suffered years of attacks and kidnappings by armed gangs.