… Ijaw youths give condition for peace
…Crude oil price hits $50 per barrel
…Kachikwu says FG has no plan to privatise refineries
Niger Delta militants again last night bombed Chevron’s crude oil pipeline located at Abiteye in Warri South West Local Government of Delta State, forcing the company to shut in crude oil output from some fields in the western Niger Delta.
THISDAY checks revealed that the militants, who arrived the spot about 10 pm in two boats, bombed the crude oil pipeline, the company’s major trunk used to convey oil for export.
Army and Navy personnel deployed in the area, according to sources, put up no resistance to the attack.
Industry sources said the attack was a major blow to the operations of Chevron, projecting that the company might reduce drastically its activities as a result of the incident.
No group has, however, claimed responsibly but it is believed in security and industry circles that it was carried out by the Niger Delta Avengers.
Yesterday’s incident was the third in three weeks by the militants on Chevron facilities.
Industry sources could not disclose the volume of crude oil that was shut in but THISDAY gathered that the incident might also affect an early supply of crude oil to the Warri refinery operated by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).
Chevron was, however, silent about the incident yesterday as the company’s spokeswoman in the United States told Reuters that it was against company policy to comment on the safety and security of personnel and operations.
Also when contacted on his mobile phone, Chevron Nigeria’s General Manager in charge of Policy, Government and Public Affairs (PGPA), Mr. Deji Haastrup, told THISDAY that the company would not respond to the attack
“We are not making any comments at this time,” Haastrup said.
But as the nation contemplates the adverse impact of the militants’ violent activities on the mainstay of the nation’s economy, Ijaw youths said yesterday in Warri that the first condition for peace to return to the Niger Delta region was the opening of the Maritime University, Okerenkoko in Delta State for academic activities, adding that it was the basis for further discussions with the federal government on the cessation of hostility.
The Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) President, Udengs Eradiri, made the declaration at Effurun, near Warri, Delta State during the 2016 annual Major Isaac Boro anniversary celebration with the theme, “The ideals of Adaka Boro and the renewed militancy in the Niger Delta: The way forward”.
“If they want us to talk, they must first open the Maritime University and start admitting students, then we would now sit and talk,” he said, adding: “The same issues for which Adaka Boro and Ken Saro-Wiwa were killed are the same issues the Avengers are raising. There are no Avengers anywhere. Settle these issues and the Avengers would fizzle away.”
The lead speaker at the event, Tony Uranta, said Boro and Ken Saro-Wiwa died fighting for the emancipation of the Niger Delta, the same reason he said led to the emergence of Asari Dokubo, Tompolo and others.
According to him, “But because Tompolo was taken out, new faces have come up. Government must reassure the people of the Niger Delta that it is not yet ready to terminate the Amnesty Programme as there are still a lot of people yet to go for training.
“If you don’t engage these people, you are building up an army of discontent and the government must restructure Nigeria to a true federalism.”
Rights activist from Niger Delta, Annkio Briggs, who was also a co-speaker, took a swipe at the federal government on the way and manner it handled the agitations of the region.
She said: “What the people of the Niger Delta region are asking for is self-determination. This is different from self-secession. We want to own our resources and states should be allowed to explore their own resources while paying tax to the federal government.”
Meanwhile, the federal government and stakeholders from the Niger Delta region have resolved to work together to stop the recent upsurge in attacks on critical oil and gas installations and ensure security, the NNPC has said.
NNPC said in a statement from its Group General Manager, Public Affairs, Mallam Garba Deen Muhammad, that a meeting was held which discussed ways to ensure stability and economic development of the area.
The statement said the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources and Group Managing Director of the NNPC, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, stated after the meeting that the government was ready to check the resurgence of pipeline vandalism in the region.
Kachikwu, it explained, noted that all the stakeholders had resolved that solutions to the incessant attacks on oil and gas pipelines are within the communities.
He stated that communities were now saddled with the responsibility of ensuring protection of pipelines within their domain.
He also added that all the states in the region would nominate about five representatives who would work hand-in-hand with security agencies to secure oil facilities in their respective states.
The minister further stated in the statement that it was resolved that violence was not an option in resolving the problems of the Niger Delta and that all threats from the region should end henceforth.
He stated that there was need to reach out to all other stakeholders who were not part of the meeting to embrace peace and dialogue.
According to him, there was also the need to restructure the Amnesty Programme so as to address the critical issue of neglect by the government and international oil companies.
“The Niger Delta governors must be involved in providing lasting solutions to the resurgence of pipeline vandalism and there is urgent need to create business opportunities for the locals in the region,” Kachikwu was quoted to have stated.
The statement also explained that Governor of Edo State, Adams Oshiomhole, and other leaders of the Niger Delta region were at the meeting and they urged the agitators to drop their arms and embrace dialogue with the government.
The statement said the meeting was attended by high level government functionaries including Oshiomhole; National Security Adviser (NSA), Maj. General Mohammed Babagana Monguno (rtd); Minister of Niger Delta, Usani Uguru; Minister of State for Agriculture; Senator Heneiken Lokpobiri; Coordinator Amnesty Programme, Brigadier General Paul Boroh (rtd); and stakeholders from Edo, Bayelsa, Rivers, Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Delta and Ondo States.
On the global scene, oil prices tested the $50 per-barrel mark yesterday as production outages brought a faster-than-expected recovery to an oversupplied market, which many producers had thought would stay depressed through the year.
The recovery of crude oil price was boosted by the loss of production of 4 million barrels per day as a result of the wildfires in Canada’s oil sands, militant attacks in Nigeria, unrest in Libya, and a near economic meltdown in Venezuela.
That has enabled futures of Brent and US crude’s West Texas Intermediate (WTI) to gain nearly 90 per cent from the 12-year lows seen this winter, and recoup about half of what they lost since mid-2014 when both traded at above $100 a barrel.
But Reuters quoted some market watchers as saying that oil’s climb to above $50 for the first time in seven months could spur producers, particularly United States shale drillers, to revive scrapped operations that could again bloat supplies and trigger a selloff.
Brent was sold for $49.88 a barrel after soaring initially to $50.51, its highest since early November 2015.
West Texas Intermediate (WTI) rose to $49.66, after reaching $50.21, its highest since early October.
Adding to outage concerns, was yesterday’s grounding of activities of Chevron in Escravos by a militant attack, which had earlier disrupted the flow of over half a million barrels of oil from reaching the market.
Investors will be watching next month’s meeting of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) for signs of an output hike now that oil had reached $50.
OPEC officials, who gathered in Vienna ahead of the June 2 meeting of the group’s oil ministers, have said any official change to its output policy was unlikely.
Also yesterday, Minister of State for Petroleum Resources and Group Managing Director (GMD) of the NNPC, Kachikwu, restated that the federal government had no plan to privatise the three operational refineries in the country.
He also stated that President Muhammed Buhari had not mandated the corporation to privatise the refineries located at Port Harcourt, Warri and Kaduna.
Kachikwu, who was represented at the event by the Chief Operating Officer (COO) of the refineries, Mr Anibor Kragha, stated these at the official presentation of the ISO 9001:2008 Certificate to the Port Harcourt Refining Company (PHRC), Eleme, Rivers State.
He made the declaration in response to a plea by a stakeholder in the oil industry that the refineries should not be sold to private investors.
He restated that there was no plan to sell the refineries, adding that the president only gave an approval to get investors to pump funds into them in order to achieve the desired result.
“We have the mandate to deliver value and money to Nigeria. So we will not privatise our refineries. Rather, we have the approval to seek funding that will take us to a higher level in production,” he said.
The House of Representatives had, on Wednesday, halted an alleged proposal to privatise the three refineries by NNPC, citing a gross violation of the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) Act Section 11, 2009.
The House Committee on Privatisation had accused the NNPC of acting unilaterally by going ahead with the exercise without involving other stakeholders as stated in the Act.