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Again, militants blow up Chevron gas pipeline

New militant group, Niger Delta Avengers (NDA), on Thursday, blew up Chevron Nigeria Limited’s main pipeline that supplies gas and provides electricity to the Escravos tank farm in Delta State. The attack which effectively shut down oil production at the Escravos terminal came less than 24 hours after the military High Command vowed to sustain its onslaught against militants in the Niger Delta, Boko Haram insurgents and criminal herdsmen across the country. The latest attack in the early hours of Thursday was confirmed through the group’s tweeter handle, @ NDAvengers. “We warned Chevron, but they didn’t listen. NDA just blew up the Escravos tank farm main electricity feed pipeline,” the groups said on Thursday. The NDA explained that the oil facilities were sabotaged following attempts by Chevron to carry out repairs of main Escravos crude oil pipeline it blew up earlier. Reuters quoted sources as saying that the company’s onshore operations in the Niger Delta had been shut down following the attack, which involved the main electricity line leading to its Escravos terminal. “It is a crude line which means all activities in Chevron are grounded,” a Chevron source told Reuters on Thursday, without elaborating. Oil industry sources said roughly 90,000 barrels per day (bpd) of Escravos were gone due to the latest attack and another on Chevron’s offshore facilities earlier this month. Meanwhile, the management of Chevron Nigeria Limited declined comments on the latest attack. Sola Adebawo, manager communications and government relation at CNL, said the oil firm would not immediately comment. “We are not able to comment at this time,” Adebawo said in a text message on Thursday. Also, a Chevron spokeswoman in the United States said on Thursday that it was against policy to comment on the safety and security of personnel and operations. However, residents in the area said that an explosion occurred on Wednesday night. Eric Omare, spokesman for Ijaw Youths Council confirmed the incident but did not provide details. Industry sources said that Escravos onshore production accounts for roughly a third of its total output, on average 3.8 million barrels per month (bpm) in 2014, according to the latest available data from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation. In a related development, a committee set up by Delta State leaders warned on Thursday that a military approach to deal with the renewed militants’ attacks would not work and “an apparent consensus” that the Federal Government and oil companies have neglected the grievances of local communities. “There is total willingness by the communities to help the Federal Government end oil facility vandalism provided there is a recognised platform to do so,” the committee said after meeting local communities.

Other attacks have forced Shell and ENI to declare force majeure on exports of Bonny Light, Forcados and Brass River crude, while an accident at an ExxonMobil terminal put Qua Iboe under force majeure. Fears of loading delays and cancellations have made international buyers reluctant to seek Nigerian crude. Nigeria is now pumping under 1.5 million bpd – less than Angola – and well below the 2.2 million bpd assumed in the 2016 state budget. The Delta committee said that, given the attacks, “it is doubtful if the expectations of the budget can be fulfilled.”

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