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Militants attack Chevron oil facility in Niger Delta

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A Chevron oil installation in the Niger Delta was blown on Thursday morning in attack already claimed by the Niger Delta Avengers (NDA).

The Thursday attack was the latest damage to Nigeria’s oil infrastructure that is dragging output to 20-year lows.

NDA appeared to claim the attack late Wednesday in a statement on a Twitter account bearing its name that said it had blown up the main electricity feed pipeline at the Escravos oil terminal.

The twitter account leads to a website which contains posts on the activities of the group. The posts were signed by one Col. Mudoch Agbinibo.

In a message posted on the site on May 5, the group had threatened to attack oil installations belonging to international oil firms if its demands were not met.

“If the International oil companies and federal government of Nigeria thinks the Niger Delta Avengers are criminal as they claim and fails to meet our demands. The Niger Delta Avengers are going to activate its elite unit THE NIGER DELTA AIR FORCE code name strike team 1. The International Oil Companies will be our first target, all oil facilities including their offshore platforms eg Bonga Fpso, EA field and their tank farms such as Bonny tank farm, Escravos tank farm and Forcados tank farm.”

The NDA, the most high-profile group to emerge recently in the increasingly volatile Niger Delta, has launched a series of attacks in recent months that have choked output from oil giants Chevron, Shell and ENI and helped push up global crude prices.

The attack would “reduce Chevron’s capability to export crude oil via Escravos,” Dirk Steffen, from the Denmark-based Risk Intelligence firm, told AFP.

“The main threat posed by this development is the severely reduced oil output, which puts further pressure on the financially constrained … government,” Steffen added.

Chevron declined to comment on the attack.

Earlier this month, NDA claimed another attack on Chevron, saying they had damaged a valve platform and later warning the company not to fix the broken infrastructure.

The NDA also claimed responsibility for attacking Shell’s Forcados underwater pipeline in February, while earlier this week Eni declared a force majeure following an attack on its Brass Rivers terminal.

“These incidents have raised fears of a renewed insurgency in the southern region,” PGI Intelligence, a London-based security analysis company, said in a May 24 report.

“Pipeline attacks are likely to continue at their current frequency in at least the short to medium term, and the security situation could deteriorate further if a government crackdown on suspected militants provokes a broader backlash.”

Nigerian junior oil minister Emmanuel Kachikwu recently said oil production had fallen from 2.2 million barrels per day to 1.4 million barrels per day — the lowest level since the 1990s.

President Muhammadu Buhari has vowed to restore stability to Nigeria’s south, whose oil exports account for 70 percent of government revenue.

However, there are fears a heavy-handed response will drive others to join the militants, who are demanding a greater share of oil wealth for the impoverished region.


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