Royal Dutch Shell Plc said it won’t attempt to repair a key pipeline in Nigeria for now after militants attacked it a second time last week, the latest sign of alarm among foreign oil companies in the African nation.
Chief Financial Officer Simon Henry said the company had to withdraw repair crews last week after a second attack against the 48-inch Forcados export pipeline that links onshore storage tanks with an offshore port.
“We cannot operate or repair if our people are threatened,” Henry said in an interview at Shell’s annual capital markets day. While the company previously said it planned to repair the facility, first attacked in February, this month, the CFO said that it was “not possible” at this time.
Shell’s resignation over the disabled pipeline suggests a new level of insecurity as a wave of violence hits the oil-rich Niger Delta, leaving production at its lowest level in nearly three decades. In the past, energy companies were able to repair pipelines after attacks, barring a few exceptions deep into the region’s swamps and creeks. The attacks are more destructive than in the past, Henry said.
“There is clearly better organization and targeting,” according to the CFO.
The militants say they are waging a war for a free Niger Delta Republic in what it tags, Operation Red Economy, with a view of halting crude oil production in Nigeria to force the government to grant the group’s demands.
The Avengers claim it has reduced oil production in the country to less than one million barrels a day. An analyst at VOA News corroborates the militants’ claims saying that oil production has dropped below one million barrels a day due to the waves of attacks on pipelines and oil installations.
The militant group has released its rules of engagement and says that it doesn’t kill anybody or attack oil workers or soldiers. The Delta Avengers called on all other groups operating in the region to abide by these rules of engagement. “We need God now, more than ever,” the group said in a statement.
The Niger Delta Avengers has presented an 11-point demand to President Muhammadu Buhari and the first is the implementation of the recommendations of the 2014 National Conference. [Download Conference report HERE.]
Pro-Biafra secessionist group, Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra, MASSOB, has pledged “total allegiance” to the Niger Delta Avengers extolling the militant group for supporting the cause of a free Biafra. MASSOB embraces the tenets of nonviolence. It is led by Ralph Uwazuruike, a lawyer.