Suspected cultists attacked a gas storage facility run by the local arm of Italian oil company Eni in Nigeria’s oil-rich delta region, an army spokesman said.
Hits on oil installations have picked up in the last few weeks coinciding with an arrest warrant for former Niger Delta militant leader, Government Ekpemupolo, known as Tompolo.
The cult group with links to former militants has been quiet for years but security sources in the delta said they began regrouping after President Muhammadu Buhari came to power on a vow to crush endemic corruption.
Army spokesman Captain Lazarus Eli said the attackers hit the facility in the village of Akala in the Ahoada local government area in Rivers state on Sunday.
“The vandals are suspected members of the Icelander cult group. The group demanded the release of a detained suspect – one Mr Emmanuel Odum – currently undergoing interrogation in connection with pipeline vandalism and cult-related activities,” Eli said.
Eni confirmed the attack but said the impact on production was minimal.
Since the warrant for Tompolo was issued in mid-January crude export pipelines have been targeted as well as pipelines feeding the refineries, forcing the plants to close down. Several ships have also come under attack from pirates.
The delta has been relatively calm since an amnesty was brokered in 2009 with militants who had been blowing up facilities and kidnapping expatriate workers for several years.
Until now, oil and gas outages were due to theft attempts that reached an industrial scale and prompted oil majors, namely Shell, to start selling off their onshore assets.