03 November 2016, Sweetcrude, Abuja – Militants in Nigeria’s southern Niger Delta oil hub attacked a pipeline operated by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), the military and a witness said on Wednesday.
It comes a day after leaders from the region, which is the source of most of the OPEC member’s oil, met President Muhammadu Buhari and asked him to pull the army out of the oil hub, order oil firms to move headquarters there and spend more on development to end militancy in the region.
“Troops in Delta State, while on routine patrol heard an explosive sound caused by suspected economic saboteurs at Batan Flow Station around Ekweregbene,” said military spokesman, Olaolu Marcellinus Daudu.
A spokesman for NNPC could not immediately be reached for comment.
The flow station is located in a creek between the southern city of Warri and the Forcados oil terminal, which last week resumed crude exports following repairs after an attack.
Militants began a wave of attacks on oil pipelines in January to push for a greater share of oil revenues.
While the attacks have cut oil production by around a third in recent months, the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Emmanuel Kachikwu said on Tuesday production was back up to 2.1 million barrels a day.
Kachikwu noted that the dialogue had already begun to yield results as daily oil production had shot up significantly.
He said, “The reality is that, as of today and this morning, we are at 2.1 million barrels (daily) production. That’s substantial. That would not have happened without efforts that went behind through the royal fathers and leaders, through the militant leaders. A lot of behind-the-scene engagements had taken place and will continue to take place.”
“What that means is that it is going to be an ongoing engagement; it will never finish. The Ministry of Petroleum is continuing a quarterly meeting involving the oil companies, the governors and the stakeholders which will happen once every three months.
“The first one is going to happen in Uyo in December and we are going to rotate that between the states so that we will have a platform, irrespective of the negotiation that is going on, to deal with the issues and continue.”
The oil minister said the president, in his response, had stated that there was no quick solution to the problems in the region, and that he would prefer to tackle them from the roots.
“He wants to dig in and find a final solution,” Kachikwu said.
Meanwhile, the representatives of the Niger Delta region at the meeting, on Tuesday, demanded a substantial share in the ownership of the oil blocks in the country.
This was part of their 16-point demand during the stakeholders’ meeting with the president in Abuja.
Other demands on the list included siting the administrative and operational headquarters of international oil companies (IOCs) in the area of operation; the introduction of fiscal federalism; economic development and empowerment of Niger Delta people; improvement of power supply, security surveillance and protection of oil and gas infrastructure, meeting the immediate needs of the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs); mitigating the effect of increased military presence in the Niger Delta, and the clean-up and environmental remediation of Ogoni.
Other issues which the stakeholders said are critical to finding lasting peace in the Niger Delta are the approval of Maritime University; strengthening the Niger Delta Ministry; resuscitation of key regional critical infrastructure; the resettlement of Bakassi natives; restructuring and funding of the NDDC.
Governors and ministers from the region, alongside political leaders including Edwin Clark and former Akwa Ibom State governor, Victor Attah, were at the meeting which was attended by over 100 representatives.
Clark, who spoke on behalf of the group, said the president received the document and “will now set the ball rolling with the minister assisting him. Then we will appoint a very capable team of experts to negotiate on our behalf”. He said the issue of the maritime university was sorted out during the meeting.
The group, in the document presented to the president by King Spiff, asked for economic development and empowerment for the region.
He called for the implementation of the Brass LNG and fertiliser plant project, including the NLNG Train 7 in Bonny, and a review and update of the national gas master plan to integrate the economic interests and industrialisation of the region amongst others.
The leaders also demand an inclusive participation in oil industry and ownership of oil blocs.
They also want a fast track of key regional critical infrastructural projects in the region, including the East-West road, and the full implementation of the rail project that is designated to run through the Niger Delta region to Lagos.
The other issues are: The issue of increased military presence in the Niger Delta which has resulted in the invasion of communities, displacement of persons, harassment and other forms of human rights abuse.