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Nigerian militants still attacking pipelines

Author : Amy Hollamby

18 February 2010

The Joint Revolutionary Council (JRC), a coalition of ex-militants and community leaders, has claimed that it attacked two key pieces of oil infrastructure and a gas pipeline in the unstable Niger Delta on the first full day in office for Nigeria's new acting president.

Nigerian militants still attacking pipelines
Nigerian militants still attacking pipelines

The attack by the Joint Revolutionary Council of the Niger Delta was not successful. But it indicates not everyone in Nigeria is happy with the way the new president, who hails from the Niger Delta region, was given power.

The JRC said it attacked the Tura manifold owned by Royal Dutch Shell in Abonnema, near the coast. The manifold connects several pipelines to the Bonny Export Terminal.

Fighters fought and overpowered the military guards on duty before going ahead to explode the Tura manifold. But the attack failed due to a community surveillance group assigned to protect the Shell pipeline.

The attack comes after Shell said saboteurs ruptured one its pipelines in Bayelsa State while trying to steal crude oil.

The main militant group in the region, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), said in January it was ending a ceasefire and threatened renewed attacks on Africa's biggest oil and gas industry amid delays to an amnesty programme caused partly by the absence of ill President Umaru Yar'Adua.

Indications suggest that oil bunkering has actually increased since the amnesty programme in 2009, as militant factions are able to focus their full attention on the industry! Estimates continue to suggest that upwards of 200,000 barrels of oil a day are stolen from the region. This issue is central to the future stability and prosperity of Nigeria and it is not being dealt with. Times are challenging in Nigeria and oil and gas companies such as Shell are impacted by security, funding and other issues that have severely cut onshore production and increased direct costs. Security is a major risk faced by multinationals.

The unstability of Nigeria has led to rumours suggesting the Shell Petroleum Development Company is leaving the region. However, the company clarified that the recent divestment from three oil blocks in North Western Niger Delta does not imply it is gradually exiting its operations in Nigeria, and it is committed to continuing its operations in the country.

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