Massive blackout looms after sabotage of Chevron pipeline

*A criminal gang running amock in the Niger Delta.

*A criminal gang running amok in the Niger Delta.

Oscarline Onwuemenyi

06 May 2016, Sweetcrude, Houston, Texas – There are concerns that the terrible power situation in the country may get worse after Wednesday’s bombing of a Chevron Nigeria Limited (CNL) major valve platform around Escravos in Warri SouthWest Local Government Area of Delta State.

A militant group, the Niger Delta Avengers (NDA), has claimed responsibility for the sabotage of the crude oil and gas production facility. The attack is coming when work is being rounded off on the bombed Forcados platform.

The group has also taken responsibility for the attack on a Shell oil pipeline in February which shut down the 250,000 barrel-a-day Forcados export terminal.

In a statement, Chevron Nigeria Limited, operator of a joint venture with the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), said an attack took place at about 11.15 pm (2215 GMT) on Wednesday.

“Okan offshore facility in the Western Niger Delta region was breached by unknown persons,” said Chevron in the statement. “The facility is currently shut-in and we are assessing the situation and have deployed resources to respond to a resulting spill,” the statement noted.

Inadequate gas supply blamed on vandalism of gas pipelines, has been the bane of the power sector. Power generation in the last one year has been so unstable, ranging from a high of 5,000Megawatts a few months ago to a low of about 1,455Megawatts.

Generation levels of 2400megawatts and about 4,1050 have been variously recorded but were never sustained due to unstable gas supply to the power generating plants.

Gas supply to power generating stations was severely reduced, thereby causing a sharp drop in electricity supply nationwide, following the bombing earlier in the year of the Forcados platform, which belongs to the Shell Producing Development Company (SPDC).

The Federal government has stated that the sabotage of Shell’s Forcados export terminal pipeline and the vandalism of the Lagos Escravos pipeline in February resulted in the shortage of 3,132 megawatts (MW).

The Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo noted in an address during the international conference of Nigeria Association of Energy Economics (NAEE) in Abuja, that, “The incident on the pipelines has cut gas supply to power plants in the Western Axis, such as Egbin, Omotosho 1, Olorinsogo 1, Ughelli, Omotosho NIPP and Olorunsogo NIPP leading to 3,132MW being constrained.”

President Muhammadu Buhari has declared that breaking of pipelines and oil platforms will henceforth be treated as economic sabotage.

He stated that “I am aware that in the last two weeks, the national grid collapsed a number of times. I hope this message will reach the vandals and saboteurs who are blowing up pipelines and installations. We will deal with them the way we dealt with Boko Haram.”

However, in a statement by its spokesman, ‘Col’. Madoch Agbinibo, NDA threatened that the Federal Government’s recent deployment of soldiers in the oil-rich region would not deter it from crippling the nation’s economy.

“The high command of the Niger Delta Avengers wants to use this medium to thank strike team 6 for successfully blowing up of the Chevron Valve Platform. And we are ready to protect the Niger Delta people.

“This is what we promised the Nigeria Government that since they refused to listen to us, we are going to zero the economy of the country.

“As for zeroing the Nigeria economy, we the Niger Delta Avengers are done with Delta State major oil installations. Now we are taking the fight out off the creeks to the Niger Delta. We are taking it to Abuja and Lagos now.

“We want to pass this message to all international oil companies operating in the Niger Delta, that the Nigeria military can’t protect their facilities. They should talk to the Federal Government to meet our demands else more mishaps will befall their installations”, the statement said.

An oil industry expert described the attack as a major setback for oil production and gas supply, saying the facility is among the most significant platforms operated by Chevron Nigeria Limited (CNL).

The source said the bombing led to a massive leak. The nation’s crude oil output and gas supply to power generation companies would be greatly impacted because the subsequent repair would demand a shut-in for as long as the problem takes to fix.

The source added that the platform is one of Chevron’s most strategic facilities, connecting to/from other platforms, including the company’s BOP and its tank farm.

It was also gathered that damage had reduced gas production to 100 million cubic feet, meaning that what goes to power generation companies and other consumers has been reduced.

Nigerian Navy Information Director Commodore Chris Ezekobe confirmed that the facility which is located at about four nautical miles off Escravos Bar was blown on Wednesday.

He said he was unaware that any group had claimed responsibility but added that there were no causalities.

He said: “It is an offshore facility located four nautical miles off Escravos Bar. Crude oil from offshore is collected there. The facility’s ability to pump crude oil and gas to the main Chevron facility at Escravos has been degraded.

“No one has claimed responsibility for the explosion that occurred on Wednesday and no casualty was reported.”

Navy Commodore Ezekobe added, “Like they blew up Chevron terminal in 2009. It happened about 40 nautical miles Escravos. Production has been cut short both in gas and crude oil. Gas production has reduced to 100 million cubic feet. We don’t know who is responsible. DNA can only be speculative. “

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