Recent attacks on oil pipelines by militants in the Niger Delta region caused Nigeria’s crude oil and condensate production to drop by almost 50 per cent from the start of 2016 to around 1.1 million barrels per day (bpd), an official of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has disclosed.
Speaking on the heels of fresh attacks on oil and gas pipelines in the Niger Delta within the last few days, the official told Platts that “the waves of attack on virtually [most] oil pipelines and production facilities in the western division of the Niger Delta have crippled operations there.
“We estimate total production losses to be around one million bpd, so we are currently down to 1.1 million bpd,” he said.
Renewed militancy in the oil-rich Niger Delta has resurfaced after years of relative calm achieved with the introduction of the amnesty programme, pushing the country’s output to more than 20-year low.
According to the NNPC, production was averaging around 2.2 million bpd at the beginning of the year, but minister of state for petroleum, Ibe Kachikwu, had, in mid-May, disclosed that production had plummeted to 1.4 million bpd.
More attacks had since then been carried out on oil infrastructure by the militants, pushing output further down.
Currently, four Nigerian crude export grades, namely Qua Iboe, Bonny Light, Brass River and Forcados, are under force majeure as a direct result of the militants’ attacks, except for Qua Iboe.
These attacks on oil and gas facilities have increased largely due to a new militant group that has emerged in the region known as the Niger Delta Avengers.
The group has claimed on Twitter that it attacked a gas and crude oil pipeline belonging to state oil firm, NNPC, despite the presence of government troops guiding the facilities.
“At 11:45pm on Thursday @NDAvengers blew up other #NNPC Gas and Crude trunkline close to Warri,” Niger Delta Avengers tweeted.
An NNPC spokesman said a team of investigators was being put together to verify the claim by the group.
“If it was in the Warri area, I don’t think there is any new pipeline that has not been breached by the militants. But we will investigate,” the spokesman said.
The militant group also restated its warnings to oil firms to close down their operations in the region, threatening to unleash more devastating attacks.
“Oil companies and Nigeria military, watch out something big is about to happen and it will shock the whole world,” it further warned.
The new militant group also said it had rejected a peace move launched by the Nigerian government on Thursday to end the violence in the region, demanding instead for “a sovereign state, not pipeline contracts.”
LEADERSHIP recalls that the federal government and the nine states of the Niger Delta region had agreed Thursday to jointly raise a security team, which would be made up of the ex-militants, to curb growing militancy.
“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 had said during the meeting.
He also called for an end to violence in the region, adding that government was committed to working with Niger Delta stakeholders to stop the recent upsurge in attacks.
Troops avert damage to oil pipelines in Bayelsa – Army
The Nigerian Army says its troops on Sunday averted attacks on oil pipelines located at Gulobokri and Eweleso communities in Brass Local Government Area of Bayelsa.
The acting Director of Army Public Relations, Col. Sani Usman confirmed this in a statement issued in Abuja.
Usman said the attack was averted by the troops on patrol of areas around Brass in Bayelsa.
According to Usman, the patrol team has an encounter with some armed militants in two speed boats with intent to blow up Nigerian Agip Oil Company pipeline at Gulobokri.
“In the early hours of today, May 29, troops of 343 Artillery Regiment of 2 Brigade, 82 Division of the Nigerian Army, carried out patrol within the general area of Gulobokri and Eweleso.
‘’This was around Brass area in Bayelsa State.
“During the exercise, the troops encountered some armed militants who opened fire on the patrol team.
“The troops responded with overwhelming superior firepower and as a result, the suspected criminals sped off from the area with many of them sustaining gunshot wounds.
“Unfortunately, a personnel of Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) attached to the team sustained gunshot wound and has since been evacuated and he is in a stable condition,’’ Usman said.
Usman also said that another patrol team of the same unit of 82 Division, Nigerian Army, averted another attack on an oil facility at Perigbene House Boat in Bayelsa.
He said the troops on patrol to the area encountered militants in three speed boats also on a mission to attack another critical infrastructure in the area.
Usman said the troops killed most of the militants while others escaped with gunshot injuries.
He said the casualty figure on militants could not be ascertained as it was raining heavily adding that the raging storm could not allow troops to go on in pursuit of the escaping criminals.
Usman added that a mop-up operation had been organised for those militants that escaped with gunshot wounds adding that they might be receiving treatment in the neighbouring communities.