Niger Delta oil sites attacked by ‘Avengers’

Article by Staff Writer

AN activist group in Nigeria calling itself the ‘Niger Delta Avengers’ has carried out attacks on Chevron’s Okan oil platform and on Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) crude and gas pipelines.

The Nigerian Navy told local media that the attackers used dynamite to attack the 35,000 bbl/d Okan platform in Delta State. The explosions occurred at around 23:15 local time on 4 May.

Chevron spokeswoman Isabel Ordonez told The Chemical Engineer: 'All personnel have been accounted for and no injuries have been reported. The Okan facility is currently shut in and we are assessing the situation. Resources were deployed to respond to a resulting spill. The incident has been reported to the relevant security and regulatory bodies. [Chevron Nigeria] continues to monitor the situation.'

It’s not known how large the resulting oil spill was.

The pipeline attacks took place on 5 May at around 22:30. The oil pipelines feed the Warri and Kaduna refineries, while the gas pipelines reportedly feed power stations providing electricity in Abuja and Lagos. According to local media, the resulting fires are proving difficult to extinguish. NNPC has not commented on the attacks.

The Niger Delta Avengers accuse the government of neglecting the Niger Delta region in favour of the north of Nigeria, where President Muhammadu Buhari is from, and of human rights violations. According to the group’s website, it is seeking the break-up of Nigeria, which it says is a failed state, to allow people from each region of the country to 'govern their own'. Amongst other things, the Avengers demand that oil pollution in the Delta is cleaned up, apologies from various government officials for various statements and ‘crimes’, and that a greater proportion of oil revenue in the country goes back to those living in the Delta region. If these demands are not met, the group says its 'major goal is to cripple the Nigerian economy' and that foreign companies will be the first target. The group says that its 'high command' includes representatives from all ethnic groups in the Niger Delta.

The Avengers have already claimed responsibility for two other attacks carried out in February, one on the Forcados terminal crude export pipeline and one on the Clough Creek Tebidaba Agip Pipeline Manifold in Bayelsa State. The latest pipeline attack came in revenge after the failure of a former militant, Government Ekpemukpolo, also known as Tompolo, to apologise for taking the side of the government and condemning the earlier attacks, the group says.

The group’s pledge to attack more sites led to Shell’s Nigerian subsidiary Shell Petroleum Development Corporation (SPDC) suspending production at its 90,000 bbl/d Eja OML 79 platform and evacuating 98 staff by helicopter over the weekend, according to Nigeria’s Vanguard newspaper. Sources told the newspaper that another subsidiary, Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company (SNEPCO), had begun to evacuate staff from the neighbouring Bonga oil field.

President Buhari has ordered a military crackdown on the Avengers. Ongoing production problems caused by attacks are likely to have a major impact on Nigeria, which derives around 90% of its overseas income from oil exports.

Article by Staff Writer

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