THE militant group wreaking havoc against oil firms operating in the Niger Delta has opened the door for authorities to begin talks on deescalating the conflict, though warned it may have to reconsider its “earlier stance of not taking any lives”.
The Niger Delta Avengers, which has carried out attacks against facilities owned by firms including Chevron, Shell and Eni, had rejected earlier offers to hold talks with the government. The group released a statement yesterday saying it is now willing to begin lasting peace talks but only if multi-national oil companies operating in the region commit independent mediators to join the discussions.
The group’s demands include having oil pollution in the Delta cleaned up and providing a greater proportion of oil revenue to those living in the region. It has pledged to “cripple” the Nigerian economy if these demands are not met. The threats have not been idle, with its attacks on pipelines and platforms plunging Nigeria’s oil output to its lowest in 20 years, down from 2.2m bbl/d to between 1.5m–1.6m bbl/d.
In its statement the group re-issued the warning that companies must not repair their attacked assets, or it will begin to sink ships in the Delta belonging to oil majors.
“Finally, if need be we may review our earlier stance of not taking lives. We are going to redirect and reactivate all our activities if the government, oil companies and their services firms don’t heed to these modest warnings of not carrying out any repair works and suspend the buying of crude oil from our region as we await the right atmosphere that will engender genuine dialogue,” the statement read.
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