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Delta Avengers reject Nigeria talks, blow up Chevron site

Nigeria's Oil Minister and OPEC president Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu listens to a news conference after a meeting of OPEC oil ministers in Vienna, Austria, December 4, 2015. 

NIGERIA: The Niger Delta Avengers militant group on Wednesday rejected an offer of talks with the government to end its attacks on oil facilities and said it had blown up a Chevron pipeline site in the Niger Delta.

Attacks by militants on oil and gas pipelines in the southern delta swamps have brought Nigeria's oil output to a 20-year low and helped push oil prices to 2016 highs.

Nigeria's oil minister said on Tuesday the government would start talks with the Niger Delta Avengers, which has claimed responsibility for a string of attacks in the delta.

The militant group rejected the offer of talks on its Twitter account. "We're not negotiating with any committee," the group said. "If the Fed Govt (federal government) is discussing with any group they're doing that on their own."

The group said it had blown up a Chevron site called "RMP 20" located next to the Dibbi flow station in the Warri area in the delta at 0100 local time. It has previously attacked Chevron, Shell and ENI facilities.

An RMP, or remote manifold platform, is a gathering location where small oil or natural gas pipelines converge before connecting to a larger storage hub. It is not a producing well, though the Niger Delta Avengers have conflated the two terms in posts on social media and other platforms.

"The attack on Chevron's RMP 20 is confirmed," said local community leader Chief Godspower Gbenekema. "The place is on fire."

Chevron, citing long-standing policy, declined to comment.

"We do not comment on the safety and security of our personnel and operations," Chevron spokesman Kent Robertson said.

While Chevron is the third-largest oil producer in Nigeria, its biggest production streams are offshore, which has mitigated the immediate impact on oil output from the spate of attacks on its infrastructure.

A group of former Niger Delta militant leaders issued a statement on Wednesday condemning the actions of the Avengers and urging them and other groups to "re-consider their activities."

"We enjoin our brothers to give peace a chance, lay down their arms and accept the offer for a meaningful dialogue," said the Leadership, Peace and Cultural Development Initiative.