Refineries will not be shut, says NNPC
Senator Iroegbu in Abuja and Ejiofor Alike in Lagos
The Nigerian military has vowed to deal decisively with the new onsluaght on oil and gas facilities in the Niger Delta by alleged militants. Director of Defence Information, Brigadier-general Rabe Abubakar, who declared this on Saturday, described the recent attacks on the oil infrastructure as the unpatriotic and callous handiwork of criminal gangs.
The new upswing in militant activities has resulted in the blowing up of major oil pipelines and destruction of economic facilities. Abubakar said the Defence Headquarters was watching the renewed militancy, stressing that the military will be holistic and professional in their approach to the problem.
This was as the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation hinted at the weekend that the attacks last week, which targeted the Escravos-Warri pipeline network that supplies feedstock to the Kaduna and Warri refineries, would not immediately stop operations at the plants. A top official of NNPC told THISDAY yesterday that the corporation had dispatched a team of engineers to ascertain the extent of damage to the pipeline. He said, however, that the Warri and Kaduna refineries had enough crude for about nine days’ operation, allaying fears that the attack on the pipeline may intensfy fuel shortages.
Abubakar said regarding the resuegent attacks on the oil and gas facilties, “This is no doubt a criminal activity and they will be treated as such at an appropriate time. The whole world is seeing the callous and unpatriotic activities of this gang. Our response will be holistic and professional, which will come at an appropriate time.
“The military and other security agencies will ensure the apprehension of these criminals and leave no stone unturned in this direction, in compliance with the directive by President Muhammadu Buhari.”
The DDI, however, urged the civiliaan pupulace in the Niger Delta not to be scared by the new attacks. “The community leaders, oil companies, and innocent individuals should go about their legitimate endeavours, as the military and other security agencies have the capability to respond appropriately and guard our strategic assets and other platforms,” he said, adding, “We did it before and will do it now for the interest of our great nation, no matter who is involve.”
In a similar vein, the Commander of Operation Pulo Shield, a military taskforce in the Niger Delta, Major-general Alani Okunlola, said the military was doing everything in their power to contain the militants.
“We are doing our bit,” Okunlola said, explaining that the DHQ would speak on the details of the plan to end the emergent attacks.
A senior naval officer disclosed at the weekend that the military and other security agencies would launch a massive offensive against the militants. “You will hear about it very soon and when we strike, the whole world will know. We will give them a decisive and fatal blow,” the officer, who did not want to be named for security reasons, said. He added, “The plan is already being mapped out. Nigerians will know that we are on top of the situation.”
Meanwhile, an NNPC official said about the attack on the Escravos-Warri pipeline, which feeds the refineries in Warri and Kaduna operated by NNPC, “There were speculative reports that the attack affected the pipeline feeding Warri and Kaduna refineries. The refineries have not stopped operations and the corporation has just dispatched a team of engineers to ascertain if it impacted Escravos-Warri pipeline because it feeds both refineries.
“Even if the pipeline is heavily impacted, it does not mean the refineries will be out of operation immediately, because the crude they have will last for the next eight or nine days.”
A previously unknown group, Niger Delta Avengers, had on Wednesday night bombed Chevron’s valve platform, an offshore oil facility located near Escravos in Abiteye, Warri South West Local Government Area of Delta State. The incident forced the company to shut in crude oil output from some fields in the western Niger Delta, while critical gas supply to thermal power stations in the country was threatened.
The attack, which occurred about 10.30pm, took place in Benikurukuru community, near Escravos, in the Ijaw axis of Gbaramatu Kingdom, hometown of ex-militant leader, who had been in hiding, Government Ekpemupolo, popularly called Tompolo.
THISDAY had gathered from Chevron sources that the incident might potentially affect gas supply through the gas pipeline from Olero Creek to Escravos as well as the operation of Chevron’s tank farm, Chevron’s Abiteye flow station, the Sagara and Otuana flow stations, and the Sagara and Odidi pipelines. However, the volume of crude oil impacted was not immediately known.
But another attack late Thursday on Chevron’s three swamp flow stations in Warri South-West council area were said to have effectively wiped off 40,000 barrels per day of crude supply. NDA also claimed responsibility for the incident, which was the company’s second consecutive days’ mishap.
The latest attack was said to have affected three platforms in Makaraba, Otunana and Abiteye, leading to the loss of more than 40,000 barrels per day.
The attack also affected the gas pipeline of the Nigerian Gas Company, a subsidiary of NNPC.