Militants have attacked Nigerian state oil and gas pipelines in the Niger delta, the second sabotage in two days following an assault on Chevron infrastructure, a state official said Friday. The attack on a Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) pipeline took place late Thursday near Warri, a city in Nigeria’s increasingly volatile oil-producing south. “Another crude pipeline was attacked Thursday night near Batan oil field in Warri,” Eric Omare, a Delta state governor aide and spokesman for the Ijaw Youth Council, one of the largest ethnic groups in the region, told AFP. Warri resident Augustine Amaka said the sabotage had polluted the area around the pipeline, while soldiers had cordoned off the site. Militant group Niger Delta Avengers (NDA) appeared to claim the attack Friday in a statement on a Twitter account bearing their name that said it had blown up the pipeline.
“This is the same pipeline that has already been attacked in February and May this year and which provides gas to Lagos for power generation,” said Dirk Steffen, from the Denmark-based Risk Intelligence firm. Recent attacks on oil infrastructure in Nigeria’s southern swamplands have caused water supplies to be turned off in Lagos, the country’s biggest city. Oil output in Africa’s largest economy has dropped to a 20-year low following repeated attacks claimed by the NDA, a new group demanding more economic and political control of the region.
In one of their most sophisticated attacks NDA divers targeted Shell’s underwater flow line near Forcados in February, an ambitious assault in deep waters requiring experienced scuba divers. Speaking after meeting officials from the Niger delta on Thursday, Nigeria’s junior oil minister Emmanuel Kachikwu appeared to signal that the federal government sees dialogue, not force, as the solution to ending the attacks. Kachikwu called for a restructuring of the amnesty scheme — a kind of welfare programme for former rebels — and voiced an “urgent need to create business opportunities for the locals in the region.”
The amnesty scheme was introduced in 2009 after years of violence, including kidnappings and attacks on oil and gas installations, by militants demanding a fairer share of revenues for local people. There has been uncertainty over the scheme’s future since President Muhammadu Buhari took office last May, with indications it would gradually be wound down. Unlike the Boko Haram insurgency in the northeast, the militant activity in the Niger delta has an immediate and significant impact on the country’s wealth, with oil exports accounting for 70 percent of Nigeria’s government revenue.