Niger Delta militants bomb Chevron’s Escravos pipeline
• ‘Attacks due to failure to act on intelligence’
• Group’s agenda is selfish, say Itsekiri leaders
• Ijaw youths give terms for peace, U.S. to help
• Govt, stakeholders meet to end vandalism
Another setback hit the nation’s oil production yesterday as the militant group, Niger Delta Avengers (NDA), blew up a facility belonging to Chevron Nigeria Limited (CNL), the main gas pipeline which provides electricity to the Escravos tank farm in Delta State.
The nation’s crude oil output has already been reduced by 31 per cent this year to about 1.4 million barrels per day (bpd), against the 2.2 million bpd estimated in the 2016 budget, the lowest in 22 years.
The General Manager, Policy, Government and Public Affairs (CNL), Deji Haastrup, declined to comment on the development, saying that the company would come out with its official position when the need arises.
However, a company source confirmed that Chevron’s onshore activities in Delta have now been shutdown as a result of the attack. “It is a crude line which means all activities in Chevron are grounded,” the source said.
The Avengers had given oil companies in the region till the end of the month to stop operations or face more attacks. Confirming the latest attack in a tweet sent via its Twitter handle, @NDAvengers, the militants said the attack on oil facilities was prompted by Chevron’s move to fix a major crude pipeline blown up by the group earlier, after they had warned that no repair should be done until their demands were fully met.
“We warned #Chevron but they didn’t listen. @NDAvengers just blew up the Escravos tank farm main electricity feed pipeline,” the group said.
The Avengers had earlier claimed responsibility for the attacks on facilities belonging to Chevron, Shell, Agip, and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) earlier this month, warning the Federal Government of further attacks.
The militants had attacked Chevron’s valve platform, an offshore oil facility located near Escravos in Abiteye, Warri South West Local Council of Delta State, forcing the company to shut in crude oil output from some fields in the western Niger Delta and critical gas supply to thermal power stations in the country.
According to Chevron, that incident had affected gas supply through the gas pipeline from Olero Creek to Escravos, Chevron’s tank farm, Chevron’s Abiteye flow station, the Sagara and Otuana flow stations, as well as the Sagara and Odidi pipelines.
Besides, the Chairman, Chevron Corporation, John Watson, yesterday said: “Low oil and natural gas prices made 2015 a challenging year for Chevron and the oil and gas industry. Chevron is taking significant actions to ensure we are well placed to emerge from this challenging operating environment in a position of strength.”
Watson disclosed this to stockholders in San Ramon, California, while giving an overview of the company’s 2015 operational and social performance and how the company was managing through current market conditions.
The Commandant General of Riverine Security (Coast Guard of the Federation) , Bibi Oduku, has blamed the attacks on the Chevron oil and gas installations by the NDA on a failure by security agencies who were tipped off to act on credible intelligence.
Bibi stated that prior to the recent bombings by the NDA, Riverine Security, had through its officers stationed in different creeks gathered intelligence that new militant groups were planning to launch attacks on oil facilities, but sadly, government agencies failed to act on the intelligence provided to them.
He said: “I want to believe that those working with the president from the Niger Delta area are not properly briefing the president on the true situation. If not this current situation will have been nipped in the bud, and the bombing and the economic loss will not have occurred at all.”
Reacting to the renewed attacks in the Niger Delta, Itsekiri leaders have condemned the activities of the NDA.
A statement issued by Edward Ekpoko on behalf of Itsekiri Leaders of Thought (ILoT) in Warri said: “We watched with surprise and anger the re-emergence and/or increase in insurgency in Warri area in particular and the Niger Delta in general by a group, which calls itself the Niger Delta Avengers. Its goal as claimed, among others, is to cripple the Nigerian economy if their selfish demands are not met.”
According to him, the Itsekiri ethnic nationality is against the NDA, and following these unpleasant developments, the Itsekiri Leaders of Thought met and took the following resolutions: “That the Itsekiri ethnic nationality condemns the criminal activities of the Niger Delta Avengers (NDA) and dissociates itself from the demands of the group.
“We can say that no Itsekiri person is a member of this nefarious group and we call on all our sons and daughters to assist the military and other law-enforcement agencies in arresting these criminal activities.
“Niger Delta Region is not the home to Ijaw ethnic nationality alone, several others including the Itsekiri, Urhobo, Bini, Ikwerre, Ibibio, Anang, Efik among others are occupying it and most of the vandalised oil and gas facilities so far are on Itsekiri land. Leave off Itsekiri land now. We warn those behind this heinous crime to leave off Itsekiri land. The agenda of the group is selfish and self-serving and does not have the support of the well-meaning people of the Niger Delta,” he stated.
The recent attack on oil installations has caused the nation a loss of about 800,000 barrels of crude oil daily.
In a bid to stop the vandalism in the Niger Delta, the Federal Government and stakeholders from the region yesterday resolved to work together and develop the area.
The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources and Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, after a meeting of the stakeholders in Abuja, expressed the Federal Government’s readiness to check the resurgence of pipeline sabotage in the region.
In a statement made available to The Guardian, Kachikwu said all the stakeholders resolved that solutions to the incessant attacks on oil and gas pipelines are within the communities, stressing that communities were now saddled with the responsibility of ensuring protection of pipelines within their domain.
He added that all the states in the region would nominate four or five representatives that would work hand-in-hand with security agencies to secure oil facilities in their respective states.
The minister further stated that it was resolved that violence was not an option in resolving the problems of the Niger Delta and that all threats from the region should end henceforth. He stated that there was need to reach out to all other stakeholders who were not part of the meeting to embrace peace and dialogue.
According to him, there is the need to restructure the amnesty programme so as to address the critical issue of neglect by the government and international oil companies.
“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 stated.
Governor of Edo State, Adams Oshiomhole and other leaders of the Niger Delta region who spoke at the meeting urged the agitators to drop their arms and embrace dialogue as the Federal Government was committed to the development of the area.
All the stakeholders who spoke at the meeting reassured that they would take the message of peace back home in order to provide a win-win situation for the Federal Government and the Niger Delta region.
And the United States (U.S.) has said it is prepared to help Nigeria establish peace in the Niger Delta . The U.S . Consul General to Nigeria, John Bray, made this promise when he visited the traditional ruler of Seimbiri Kingdom in Delta State, Charles Ayemi-Botu in Warri. Bray was at the palace to seek solutions to the recent bombings in the region. Meanwhile, all the Ijaw youths from the Niger Delta region including Lagos and Abuja and the United States yesterday met in Warri Delta State, to address the renewed violence in the Niger Delta region and to formulate a blueprint to guide their future relationship with the government.
They issued a red line to the government which it must never cross: that the immediate past President Goodluck Jonathan must not be humiliated or arrested for any questioning until other past presidents have been interrogated for the same reason for which Jonathan may be arrested.
They listed several other demands to enthrone peace in the region: they want the Federal Government to immediately announce a resumption date for the Maritime University at Okerenkoko and that the government must reassure the Niger Delta people that they would not terminate the amnesty programme. They said that the government must restructure the country to reflect good democratic practices to enthrone the rule of law.
They also want the government to criminalise illegal oil bunkering and provide those responsible the tools to turn their operations into modular refineries since they are mitigating the failure of the nation’s refineries to provide sufficient products.
The meeting which was convened by the Ijaw Youths Council (IYC) paraded some of the most notable activists in the Niger Delta. They included Annkio Briggs, Tony Uranta and Udengs Eradiri (IYC president). Former Minister of Police Affairs, Chief Broderick Bozimo chaired the meeting which was also graced by the Special Adviser to the President on Amnesty Brig. Gen. Paul Boro.
Several speakers were unanimous that the region has been unfairly treated despite being the producer of the only resource the nation depends on and that the unfair treatment has led to the emergence of the NDA.
There was palpable anger at the venue that President Muhammadu Buhari had threatened to crush the Niger Delta militants instead of creating a platform to engage them in a robust dialogue that would give them a sense of belonging which would create an enabling environment for oil exploration to thrive.
The speakers were angry that the same issue of neglect of the Niger Delta region which had been on since 50 years ago was yet to be addressed, leading to the rise of militant groups.
Annkio Brigs said: “Adaka Boro, Asari Dokubo, Tompolo have been accused of being militants but I call them armed agitators because these persons are agitating for the same neglect that the various governments have refused to fix.”