Yemisi Izuora/Agency Report
A crude oil pipeline in Nigeria’s southern state of Bayelsa operated by the local subsidiary of Italy’s Eni was attacked on Thursday night, a state lawmaker told reporters on Saturday.
This is the second major attack since an arrest warrant was issued this month for former militant leader Government Ekpemupolo, known as Tompolo.
The hits follow years of relative calm in the country’s oil-producing region after a 2009 amnesty halted a spate of attacks on oil installations and kidnappings of expatriate workers.
“I want to condemn the latest attack on the Agip pipeline at Kpongbokiri. This is a clear sabotage by economic saboteurs,” Israel Sunny-Goli, a member of the Bayelsa state assembly, said after preliminary investigations had been concluded.
He said attackers hit a crude pipeline near Brass, a coastal city and site of a crude export terminal. Eni operates in Nigeria through its subsidiary Nigerian Agip Oil Company.
A spokesman for NNPC said he could not yet say whether exports would be affected.
Former government and military officials have already been charged, while Tompolo is the first high profile former militant which the security services have gone after.
Following the amnesty, many former leaders enriched themselves through lucrative pipeline protection contracts under previous president Goodluck Jonathan but oil theft reached an industrial scale.
Multiple bombings of Agip oil pipelines had reportedly caused thousands of barrels of oil to pollute waterways, farms and fishing grounds in Nigeria’s southern Bayelsa state, residents said Monday.
Oil flowed unchecked for two days, according to fishermen who complained that a clean-up has not yet started.
A spokesman for Italian parent company ENI said 16,000 barrels of oil per day were lost and the company has began working to resume production.
The official, whose job rules do not allow him to be quoted by name, offered no other details.
The spill is “massive the biggest in years,” community leader Eke-Spiff Erempagamo told The Associated Press. He said it covers Orukari, Golubokiri, Kpongbokiri and other communities in the Brass area.
Residents blamed the explosions on Thursday and Friday on militants who want the polluted oil producing states to get a bigger share of revenues.
Similar attacks a week earlier on gas and oil installations near southern Escravos terminal are costing Nigeria $2.4 million a day in lost power and gas, the government said before restricted supply forced the closure of two of Nigeria’s five refineries.
The attacks came after a court ordered the arrest of a former oil warlord accused of corruption. He has denied his henchmen are responsible for the pipeline attacks.
The Niger Delta had been relatively peaceful since a 2009 amnesty for militants which paid them to guard the oil installations they once attacked. Until the amnesty, the conflict was taking 1,000 lives a year and had slashed production of Africa’s biggest oil producer by 40 percent.