Yemisi Izuora/Agency Report
A fresh attack on an oil pipeline in the Niger Delta, which a fairly new militant group claimed responsibility has been confirmed.
The Niger Delta Greenland Justice Mandate group claimed that it attacked the Efurun-Otor pipeline in the in the Urhobo region, operated by the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC), a subsidiary of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).
“Although the pipeline was not in use at the time of attack, NPDC periodically makes use of it and it is a major carrier of their product from (oil mining lease) OML 34 to OML 65,” Lucky Sorue, head of oil and gas workers in the Urhobo region, said on Monday, as quoted by Reuters.
The Niger Delta Greenland Justice Mandate became notorious in August when it started blowing up pipelines earlier that same month. The Greenland group has been targeting NPDC installations because these are the only installations in the area where the Greenland group operates.
That group, which is not affiliated in any way to the most notorious militants, the Niger Delta Avengers (NDA), had not taken part in the ceasefire that the NDA had vowed to keep.
Last week, however, just as Nigeria said that its oil production had increased to 1.9 million barrels per day, from the 1.3 million bpd it produced in the spring of 2016, the NDA targeted Chevron’s offshore export pipeline at Escravos.
The sharp drop in Nigeria’s daily crude oil output had been courtesy of (mostly) the NDA militants targeting oil infrastructure in the Niger Delta. Before the militant attacks started a couple of years ago, OPEC member Nigeria was pumping 2.2 million bpd.
Due to the violence that has crippled Nigeria’s oil production, OPEC has generally agreed that the country, alongside Libya and Iran, would be given a pass when the cartel discusses production cuts to fit its total production within the tentative 32.5 million bpd-33 million bpd limit it is currently trying to negotiate.
The Niger Delta Greenland Justice Mandate group also said in a statement it would not support the talks being held by President Muhammadu Buhari and representatives from the Niger Delta to end the oil infrastructure sabotage.
Attacks on pipelines by militant groups have slashed Nigeria’s oil production helping to tip the country into recession as it struggles to adapt to the low price of crude globally.
“In furtherance of the Operation Hammurabi Code, our Akuma strike team struck and brought down the 32-inch Effurun-Otor delivery line,” the militant group’s spokesman Aldo Agbalaja in a statement.
“This is not ending soon, we shall fulfil our promise of uprooting your entire assets in our land.”
The Effurun-Otor pipeline feeds the Utorogu gas plant that powers Lagos, a megacity of around 20 million people.
“Like we said before now, the Niger Delta Greenland Justice Mandate is not opposed to a genuine dialogue between the federal government and real representatives of the various nations of our region,” said the statement.
“We are collecting names from the nations in the region, those who will sincerely and equitably represent our various peoples.”
A security source confirmed the attack. “Yes, a pipeline conveying products to the Utorogu gas plant was attacked by some hoodlums,” a Department of State Security official told AFP.
Divisions between rival militant groups will make it hard for the Nigerian government to strike a lasting peace deal.
A 2009 amnesty deal with militants helped end sabotage in the oil-producing southern swamplands, but the violence reignited after Buhari’s cash-strapped government temporarily ended amnesty payments and arrested a prominent ex-militant for corruption.