Niger Delta Avengers Reject Dialogue, Bomb Chevron Pipelines Again

Despite the meetings and ongoing consultations between the Federal Government, governors of the Niger Delta region, stakeholders and representatives of the militants, including the plan to scale down military activities in Ijaw communities in Delta and Bayelsa states, Niger Delta Avengers (NDA) early yesterday bombed Chevron’s Dibi Fields facility in Warri North Council, Delta State.

Amid the crisis, Nigeria has lost N60 billion in oil revenue to the destruction of the Forcados Oil Terminal (FOT) by Niger Delta militants, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), said in its report released yesterday.

The 48-inch FOT export line was vandalised in February 2016 and crippled Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC) and all Joint Venture (JV) Partners’ ability to export crude oil from the terminal.

Outraged at the development, Nobel laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, yesterday described as ‘senseless,’ the attacks on Nigeria’s oil facilities even as former members of the defunct Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) have appealed to the militant group to shun further attacks and embrace peace.

On the sidelines of an event in Lagos yesterday, Soyinka told a television station that unlike the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), he was yet to find out what exactly the militants actually want.

He noted that the only thing he had seen was the unjust destruction of the nation’s oil facilities.The former MEND leaders said : “If you take an honest look at the actions of the NDA, you will see that the bombing of pipeline and other vices will have a lasting negative effect on our fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters and even children in the communities who will not have a source of livelihood if the whole area is polluted.”

They added that President Muhammad Buhari’s desire to kick- start the Ogoni clean-up was a clear demonstration that he has the Niger Delta at heart and would do anything possible to alleviate the suffering of the people.

The bombing of Chevron’s Dibi fields by the Avengers occurred despite the assurances last Tuesday by the Nigeria Navy NNS Delta’s Commander, Commodore Raimi Mohammed, that the destruction of pipelines would be drastically reduced or end with “breakthrough arrest’ of a kingpin believed to be the coordinator of the recent bombings in the three Warri councils.

The militant group like in the past announced the bombing on its Tweeter account : “At 1:00a.m. today, the @NDAvengers blew up Well RMP 20 belonging to Chevron located 20 meters away from Dibi Flow Station in Warri North local government area.”

The Avengers also indicated that those allegedly discussing with the Federal Government were not representing them but negotiating for their own interest as they were not ready to dialogue with any group.

The Avengers said: “This is to inform the general public that we are not negotiating with any committee. If the Federal Government is discussing with any group they’re doing that on their own.”

However, former militant leader and Chairman of the Egbema-Gbaramatu Central Development Foundation, Chief Michael Johnny, has described the decision by the government to discuss with NDA as unfortunate.

He said: ” Why is the Federal Government dialoguing with criminals who have taken down about 95 per cent of the economic infrastructure of the nation?

“Now, the ministers and government officials are discussing with them and this morning they have bombed another pipeline. Government is encouraging the campaign of criminality?”

According to him, South South governors who claim to know the members of the Avengers that government is allegedly discussing with should be held responsible for the unproductive dialogue with militants.

Reacting to the bombing, the group of former militant leaders under the aegis of the Leadership, Peace and Cultural Development Initiative (LPCDI) appealed to the group and all other ones to desist from carrying out further attacks on oil pipelines and embrace the Federal Government’s peace initiatives.

In a statement made available to reporters in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State capital by Reuben Wilson, also known as ‘General Pastor’, the group lamented that the recent attacks on pipeline were having a negative effect on people in the communities as their only source of livelihood is being polluted.

The statement urged them to give peace a chance, adding, “we are standing on the side of peace and will always do because of the greater interest of the entire Niger Delta region.”

The NNPC said the shut-in of the pipeline had led to the declaration of force majeure by Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria (SPDC) occasioned by production shut-in of about 380,000 barrels of oil per day.

According to NNPC, the recent upsurge in vandalism has negatively impacted on the Nigeria’s crude oil production output, losing its position of Africa’s top crude oil producer to Angola.

Besides, the NNPC report indicated an operational loss of N19.43 billion in April 2016 as against N18.89 billion in the month of March 2016.

According to the corporation, the deficit increased by 2.83 per cent in the month of April 2016 due to slight decline in revenue generation which is attributed to decrease in petroleum product sales by 7.11 per cent.

NNPC said that Nigeria’s crude oil production for the month of March 2016 stood at 57.43 million barrels, which is 3.10 per cent lower than February, 2016 production and so far the lowest recorded in the 12 months review period.

It disclosed that about 380,000bpd remained shut in due to the destruction of the 48’ sub-sea export line on February 15, 2016, which led to the deferment of all March cargoes until the repair is completed. “Also the nation has lost over 1,500 megawatts of power supply to the damage as gas supply from Forcados, which is Nigeria’s major artery, accounts for 40 to 50 percent of gas production. Incessant pipeline vandalism poses the greatest threat to the industry,” the report added.

The report stated: “A total of 57.43 million barrels of crude oil and condensate was produced in the month of March 2016 representing an average daily production of 1.85 million barrels.

“This represents a decrease of 3.10 per cent compared to February 2016 performance. Of the March 2016 Production, Joint Ventures (JVs) and Production Sharing Contracts (PSC) contributed about 35.25 per cent and 42.30 per cent respectively.”

The report disclosed that NNPC was collaborating with international oil companies (IOCs) to carry out a review of all the federation upstream joint venture projects.

Meanwhile, the Ijaw National Congress (INC) has appealed to the Avengers to accept the declaration of cessation of military offensive in the Niger Delta

It also urged the permanent withdrawal of soldiers from communities in the Niger Delta because their presence leaves the impression that the region is once again under military siege.

INC spokesperson, Victor Burubo, told The Guardian that the group was concerned with the resurgence of militancy in the Niger Delta. He appealed to the new militant group to accept the Federal Government’s two-weeks cessation of hostilities to determine the sincerity of the government to address their demands.

Burubo observed that the recent attacks on oil installations were further worsening the already degraded environment of the Niger Delta. He warned that for every litre of crude of oil that is spilled into the environment as a result of attacks of oil facilities, “it is actually the people of the Niger Delta that suffer and not the rest of Nigeria that shares from the proceeds of crude oil sold.”

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