Ejiofor Alike in Lagos and Sylvester Idowu in Warri
For the second time in two days, the Niger Delta Avengers (NDA), the militant group responsible for the relentless attacks on oil facilities in the Niger Delta, on Monday night breached two manifolds operated by the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC), the exploration and production subsidiary of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), at Batan community in Warri South West Local Government Area of Delta State.
The group, which blew up five oil facilities in the wee hours of Sunday morning, also bombed two more trunk lines belonging to the NNPC in the area and oil well 10 operated by Chevron at Mararaba community in Gbaramatu Kingdom.
The reign of destruction by the group is likely to impact oil prices which fell by four per cent yesterday amid concerns of a global economic slowdown sparked by Britain’s exit from the European Union (EU) and data showing an increase in US crude stock.
Several security sources confirmed to THISDAY yesterday that the bombings took place between 10 p.m. and 11.20 p.m. on Monday night without any resistance from the military.
He said the militants had a field day because of the scaled-down military operations in the kingdom, the area where ex-militant leader and fugitive of the law, Chief Government Ekpemupolo, alias Tompolo, hails from.
A highly placed security source disclosed that the attacks at Batan took place between 10.35 p.m. and 11.20 p.m. while that of Chevron occurred about the same time.
Claiming responsibility for the latest attacks later, the Avengers said it blew up the Chevron oil well 10 close to the Otunana flow station.
A terse statement signed by its spokesman, Mudoch Agbinibo, added that other attacks were carried out at 11.15 p.m.
“Niger Delta Avengers blew up the NPDC manifold close to Banta and two PPMC/NNPC crude oil trunk lines,” it said.
But as condemnations continued to trail last weekend’s bombings of five oil and gas installations by the militant group, after a lull in its nefarious activities, a foremost non-governmental organisation, Centre for Peace and Environmental Justice (CEPEJ), joined other Nigerians to condemn the dastardly acts, which have upended the gains recorded in recent weeks.
The position of CEPEJ was contained in a statement signed by its coordinator, Mr. Sheriff Mulade, saying that the continued bombings of oil and gas facilities was an ill-wind that would do the region no good.
He said, instead it would adversely affect the environment and slow down its economy.
The NGO reiterated its appeal to the Avengers to sheathe its swords and allow peace to reign, adding that no development could take place in an environment wracked by conflict.
CEPEJ also appealed to the federal government to go ahead with the proposed peace talks, but cautioned against engaging directly with the militants in the peace parley, suggesting rather that critical stakeholders should be identified and engaged by the government.
“Otherwise government would create more room for other pseudo-groups to emerge. If the government wants to truly resolve the issues, it should involve critical leaders and not political stakeholders; otherwise it will be another jamboree and failed attempt.
“The fundamental issues are clear: the people of the Niger Delta need development and remediation of their environment which has been devastated by years of oil and gas exploration and exploitative activities.
“The politicians are the beneficiaries of the system. When they are fraternising with the militants, on the one hand, they want to end the militancy, on the other.
“That is why we said the government should not make it a political talk, rather Niger Delta stakeholders at the grassroots should be involved,” it counselled.
The group warned that the dialogue committee constituted by the federal government should not be seen as a diversionary ploy, explaining that weeks after President Muhammadu Buhari announced the composition of the committee, nothing concrete had happened.
However, before news of the attacks filtered into the oil market, prices of the commodity fell about four per cent yesterday amid concerns over an economic slowdown sparked by Britain’s exit from the EU and data showing an increase in US crude stock.
The impact of leaving the EU has hit Britain’s property market and driven the pound to a 31-year low, while weakness in trade and investment looms in China in the coming weeks.
Reuters quoted traders yesterday as citing another bearish factor data from market intelligence firm, Genscape, showing a build of 230,025 barrels at the Cushing, Oklahoma storage hub for US crude futures during the week to July 1.
The price of Brent crude yesterday was down $1.84, or 3.7 per cent, at $48.26 a barrel, while the US crude, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) fell $1.89, or 3.9 per cent, to $47.10 a barrel, after dropping more than $2 at the session low.
Apart from the increasing stockpiles of US crude, oil production by the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) had risen in June to its highest in recent history, as Nigeria’s oil industry partially recovered from militant attacks.
However, the main militant group – the Avengers – has resumed attacks on oil facilities, a few days before the expiration of the 30-day ceasefire militant groups in the oil-rich region had agreed with the Nigerian government. But the impact of the renewed attacks is yet to be felt on exports.
Yet as Nigeria and Canada ramped up production the after earlier supply outages caused by militant attacks and wildfires, respectively, global supply rose significantly.
The biggest increase from OPEC in June of 150,000 bpd came from Nigeria, where output had fallen to its lowest in more than 20 years, following repairs to oil infrastructure and the absence of major attacks for about two weeks.
Supply from OPEC rose to 32.82 million barrels per day (bpd) in June, from a revised 32.57 million bpd in May.
OPEC’s June output exceeded January’s 32.65 million bpd, when Indonesia’s return as an OPEC member boosted production and output from the other 12 members was the highest.
OPEC’s supply has surged since the cartel abandoned in 2014 its historic role of cutting supply to prop up prices.
Gulf producers, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates had also increased supply by 50,000 bpd each.
Libyan output rose by 40,000 bpd after the reopening in late May of the Marsa al Hariga export terminal, the survey found. But supply from the country is still a fraction of the pre-conflict rate.
Among countries with declining supply, Iraq had pumped less for a second month.