Niger Delta Avengers attack more oil sites

Article by Staff Writer

NIGERIAN militant group the Niger Delta Avengers has attacked two more oil facilities, Chevron’s Escravos tank farm and a gas and crude pipeline near Warri owned by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).

Details are at present sketchy on the Warri pipeline attack. On 27 May, the Avengers claimed on Twitter that at 11:45 local time on 26 May, its militants had blown up NNPC’s gas and crude trunkline close to Warri, which it said was “heavily guarded” by the Nigerian military. At time of publishing, there have been no official statements or confirmation of the attacks, although the story has run in several Nigerian media outlets. In a further tweet the Avengers warned that “something big is about to happen and it will shock the whole world.” No further information was given.

Niger Delta Avengers tweet 1

A Chevron source told Reuters Africa that Chevron has been forced to close the Escravos tank farm, after the attack by the Niger Delta Avengers which resulted in the destruction of the site’s main electricity feed. The source said that all Chevron’s onshore activities have been “grounded”, while industry sources told the newswire that attacks had resulted in the loss of about 90,000 bbl/d of output from Chevron facilities. Chevron’s planned output was 167,000 bbl/d. Residents told Nigeria’s Premium Times that an explosion had occurred in the region of the Escravos tank farm on 25 May.

Though Chevron has previously spoken to the press about recent attacks, a company spokeswoman refused to comment on the latest, saying only: “As a matter of long-standing policy, we do not comment on the safety and security of our personnel and operations.”

Chevron’s Okan oil platform was the subject of a previous attack by the militants, who used dynamite to blow up part of the platform. Chevron confirmed that the site had been closed by the attack but that no personnel were injured. On 11 May, the Niger Delta Avengers published a statement on its website warning Chevron that if repairs on the platform continued while the Avengers’ demand were unmet, group militants would bring down the Escravos tank farm.

Niger Delta Avengers tweet 2

On 12 May, the Avengers issued an ultimatum via their website to operators within the Niger Delta, giving them two weeks to shut down their operations and evacuate staff.

“If at the end of the ultimatum and you still operating (sic), we will blow up all the locations,” they said.

The Niger Delta Avengers accuse the government of neglecting the people of the Niger Delta region in favour of the north of Nigeria, where President Muhammadu Buhari is from, and of human rights violations. It wants a greater proportion of oil revenue to go to people from the Detla, and is seeking the break-up of Nigeria, which it says is a failed state. Among other things, the group demands that oil pollution in the Delta is cleaned up, seeks apologies from various government officials for various statements and ‘crimes’, and wants a greater proportion of oil revenue in the country given to those living in the Delta region. It has pledged to “cripple” the Nigerian economy if its demands are not met.

Nigerian officials are concerned about the attacks. According to Reuters, oil minister Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu believes that grievances raised by the Niger Delta Avengers and other militant groups need to be addressed, perhaps suggesting that opinions are shifting towards a softer resolution to the problem rather than the present military action. He said an amnesty programme for militants set up in 2009 should be improved to address “neglect” by the government and international oil companies. Many Niger Delta residents live in poverty.

“The Niger Delta governors must be involved in providing lasting solutions to the resurgence of pipeline vandalism and there is urgent need to create business opportunities for the locals in the region,” Kachikwu said.

Article by Staff Writer

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