Monday, June 6, 2016

Niger Delta Avengers launch 3 attacks on Nigerian oil infrastructure

The militant Niger Delta Avengers group has claimed it is responsible for three new attacks on Nigeria's oil infrastructure in the Niger Delta area. They promise to cut production to zero. The attacks are putting pressure on Nigeria's already strained finances. The Nigerian Air Force is deploying more fighter aircraft, helicopter gunships and surveillance aircraft in the region. The army has also moved reinforcements into the swampy area.

The Niger Delta Avengers (NDA)publicly announced their existence in March 2016. The group have attacked oil producing facilities in the area causing oil terminals to shut down. Nigeria oil production is at its lowest level in 20 years. The NDA wants to create a sovereign state in the area. The group claims that oil firms are responsible for pollution and the poor swampland region does not reap any benefit from the oil operations. It boasted that its attacks had reduced Nigerian oil production to just 800,000 barrels per day from 2 million, without killing anyone.

The NDA reported on its Twitter account that it had blown up a pipeline in Bayelsa state owned by the Italian ENI. This happened just hours after another attack on an ENI pipeline as well as one owned by Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria. Shell confirmed that its 250,000 barrels a day Forcados pipeline had been hit and was leaking. The pipe was shut down in February and undergoing repairs but the new strike will complicate matters. The NDA warned ENI not to start repairs on their pipelines or they would regret it. ENI had no comment on the attacks or threat.

The president of Nigeria Muhammadu Buhari a Muslim from the north of Nigeria cancelled what would have been his first visit to the Delta region since taking office. NDA accuse Buhari of ignoring local problems and of never having visited the southern Christian region. Buhari may fear for his security if he were to travel to the Delta region.

The new attacks follow upon a series of bombing that have hit Chevron, Agip, and NNPC oil and gas installation across the Delta during the last few days. On Wednesday the NDA also used their Twitter account to announce that he destroyed two Chevron oil wells. The group refused to attend a meeting convened by the federal government saying:"The Niger Delta stakeholder's meeting is an insult to the people of Niger Delta. What we need is a Sovereign State not pipeline Contracts," 

The pipeline attacks and the drop in oil prices have hurt the Nigerian economy. There is an acutefuel shortage because of its lack of refineries. It has to import petroleum products at international prices but has been selling it at subsidized prices, the difference has to be paid to importers. In May of 2016 the price of petrol rose by about three quarters angering many. Labor unions called decision "criminal" and called for a strike but later cancelled.
Nigerian president Buhari

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