09 May 2016, Warri – The activities of Niger Delta Avengers, the new militant group in the oil-rich region, have forced Royal Dutch Shell to evacuate most of its staff from its production facility, Eja OML 79.
This came as different security agencies and militants held separate undisclosed meetings to re-appraise their tactics, following a fresh directive by President Muhammadu Buhari that the group, which claimed responsibility for the recent bombing of oil/gas installations in Warri, Delta State, be overpowered.Shell evacuation was carried out by three helicopters weekend.
The evacuation saw 98 key personnel airlifted by helicopters from Eja OML 79, run by Royal Dutch Nigerian subsidiary, Shell Petroleum Development Corporation, SPDC, where production of 90,000 barrels of oil per day has been halted.
Sources said that a small group of staff was left on the platform to carry out skeletal operations. The staff and facility are offered protection by two gunboats belonging to the Military Joint Taskforce. Close to Eja 79 is the Bonga Field, which has a larger production capacity and is operated by another Shell subsidiary, Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company, SNEPCO. Sources said some staff had been evacuated from Bonga, while the wider security implication is being reviewed by the company. Last week, Niger Delta Avengers, blew up Chevron Valve Platform in Abiteye, Warri North Local Government Area of Delta State. They had earlier in the year, blown up pipelines in the state. Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State, who spoke at the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, South-South governors meeting in Asaba, condemned the recent attack on Chevron facility, adding that “gas pipeline vandalism is very unfortunate.”Meanwhile, former militant leader, Government Ekpemupolo, alias Tompolo, yesterday, said he had no apology to offer to the Niger Delta Avengers, NDA, which, last Tuesday, issued him a three-day ultimatum to withdraw his alleged denunciation of the group and its violent activities. Also, Ijaw Youth Council, IYC, apex Ijaw youth organisation, in a statement by its spokesperson, Mr. Eric Omare, threw its weight behind Tompolo, maintaining that the militant group should not force him to support their destructive mission, just as the Centre for the Peace and Environmental Justice, CEPEJ, and Ijaw Peoples Development Initiative, IPDI, condemned the resort to violence by Niger Delta Avengers. However, Itsekiri and Ijaw leaders, Chief Ayiri Emami and Johnny Michael, who spoke to Vanguard on phone, fingered an ex-militant leader for the bombings, saying the militant group was acting his script