Nigeria pipeline attacks raise fresh tension in Delta
Nobody initially claimed responsibility for the assault on the Trans Ramos Pipeline in the early hours of Sunday morning although suspicion fell on one of several armed groups pushing for a greater share of Nigeria’s oil revenues.
The pipeline is operated by the Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC), an affiliate of the Dutch petrochemicals giant, who said that they were investigating reports of a blast, adding that the pipeline had been shut since February 14.
The explosion came as a new militant group calling themselves the Adaka Boro Avengers withdrew its threat to declare an independent Republic of Niger Delta following appeals from community groups who warned the move would cause clashes with the military that would cost civilian lives.
Rear Admiral Joseph Okojie, who heads the Joint Task Force in the Niger Delta, codenamed Operation Delta Safe, earlier warned that the Nigerian Armed Forces would confront any militants attempting to establish an independent state.
The Delta region has been hit by a wave of attacks in recent months on oil facilities operated by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation and international firms such as Shell, Chevron, Exxon and Eni amid claims local communities are not benefiting from the region’s oil wealth.
Assaults on petrochemical infrastructure by groups such as the Niger Delta Avengers have contributed to the steep decline in crude production, which has tumbled by almost a third since the start of 2016, to around 1.5 billion barrels per day.