The war against oil installations in the Niger Delta by emergent militants in the region appears to be relentless as they have again blown up a gas pipeline to Escravos in Warri South-West Local Government Area of Delta State.
Apparently reacting to earlier bombings, President Muhammadu Buhari has directed the Chief of Naval Staff to reorganise and strengthen the military Joint Task Force (JTF) in the Niger Delta to deal effectively with the resurgence of militancy and the sabotage of oil installations.
THISDAY gathered that the facility, which belongs to the Nigerian Gas Company (NGC), a subsidiary of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), was attacked with explosives early yesterday.
Although, no official statement confirming the incident could be obtained from either the NGC or the security task force (JTF) in the region, a dependable security source said the gas trunk-line was blown up at a portion near Warri metropolis near Ogbe-Ijoh, the administrative headquarters of Warri South-West Local Government Area.
It is feared that the latest attack could worsen the very bad gas production and supply situation in Nigeria with heavy toll on the energy generation capacity of the country.
It is also likely to adversely affect the country’s general oil export capability, which has fallen from 2.2mbpd to about 1.4mbpd due to the resurgence of militancy in the Niger Delta.
However, no one has yet claimed responsibility for the attack on the facility, which is part of NGC’s Phase II of the Escravos-Lagos gas pipeline though the Niger Delta Avengers militia group has said it carried out most of the recent devastating attacks on offshore oil facilities in Delta State.
The Escravos-Lagos pipeline was seriously damaged in February by militants, leading to a drop of 3,132 megawatts (MW) of electricity with operational difficulties for electricity distribution companies (discos) in the country.
Militants blew up a Valve Platform, an offshore oil facility belonging to Chevron Nigeria Limited, CNL, located near Escravos in Warri South-West Local Government Area of Delta State, earlier this month.
The NDA later claimed responsibility for the attack, while congratulating its ‘strike forces’ for a job well done.
In January, the same gas pipeline belonging to the NGC in Warri Southwest, conveying gas from Escravos-Warri-Lagos-Abuja was blown up by one of the violent gangs.
The boys reportedly blew up the gas pipeline at three different points along Opudebubor, Okpelama and Kpokpo area, Chanomi creek and Sahara.
Details of yesterday’s attack were still sketchy at the time of going to press, but an official of the Delta State government described the attack as a major blow to gas production in the country.
Spokesman of the Joint Task Force in the region, Col. Isa Ado, did not respond to enquiries, but a military source around the area confirmed the incident.
Attack Disrupts Gas Supply to Egbin, Geregu, Omotosho Power Stations, Others
Friday’s reported attacks on the Escravos–Warri-Lagos Pipeline will lead to further drop in power generation as a result of the disruption of gas supply to power stations in Olorunsogo in Ogun State, Geregu in Kogi State, Omotosho in Ondo State and Egbin Power Station in Lagos State.
Before the attack, generation as at 6.00am on Friday was 3,147.3 megawatts, according to data obtained from the Nigerian Electricity System Operator, an arm of the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN).
The data also showed that generation had slumped to 174.7MW on Thursday before it peaked at 3,147.3MW.
The 1,320 megawatt-capacity Egbin Power Station, which is the biggest power plant in Nigeria, receives all its feedstock through the Escravos-Lagos pipeline system, which has a capacity of about 800 million standard cubic feet per day of gas (MMscfd).
Also the 434megwatt capacity Geregu 1 Power Station in Kogi State, and the Geregu NIPP Plant, which has the same installed capacity rely on Escravos pipeline for gas supply.
Others include Olorunsogo Power Plants 1 and 2 in Ogun State; and Omotosho Power Plants 1 and 2 in Ondo State.
Geregu, Omotosho and Olorunsogo – each has two power stations – one built by the defunct Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) and the second one built under the National Integrated Power Project (NIPP).
The old PHCN plants have since been privatised while the process of the privatisation of the NIPP plants was stalled by litigations and gas supply constraints.
The pipeline is owned and operated by the Nigerian Gas Company (NGC), a subsidiary of the
Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).
NNPC’s spokesman, Mr. Grauba Deen Muhammadu could not be reached on Friday for comments.
Qua Iboe Export Terminal Not Shutdown, Says ExxonMobil…
In a related development, United States oil giant, ExxonMobil has clarified that the declaration of force majeure on exports of Qua Iboe grade of crude oil did not lead to the closure of the Qua Iboe Export Terminal.
The company’s spokesman said the declaration of force majeure was to inform the company’s customers that exports would be reduced as a result of the rig accident.
The company had declared a force majeure on the country’s largest export grade Qua Iboe, saying that it had reduced output after a drilling rig damaged a pipeline.
The Manager in charge of Media and Communications at Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited, Mr. Oge Udeagha has also clarified that the export terminal was not shutdown on account of any threat by militants.
He confirmed that some unknown persons obstructed access to the bridge leading to the terminal on Thursday but added that the removal of the obstructions was ongoing peacefully, following the intervention of Akwa Ibom State government and other stakeholders.
“Mobil Producing Nigeria, MPN, operator of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation NNPC/MPN Joint Venture, confirms that in the early hours of Thursday May 19, 2016, some unknown persons obstructed access to the bridge leading to our Qua Iboe terminal complex in Ibeno, Akwa Ibom state, thereby preventing our personnel and the public from conducting their legitimate businesses.
“We can also confirm that a peaceful removal of the obstructions is on-going, following the intervention of the officials of the state government, security agencies and community leaders. MPN condemns this criminality and restates its high regard for the rule of law,” he explained.
A drilling rig, which was experiencing mechanical difficulties, had damaged the pipeline the company jointly owns with the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).
Though traders claimed that the export terminal which was scheduled to ship 317,000 barrels per day in June was shut down, the company said exports would only be reduced.
Qua Iboe outage worsened the production problems at two of the other largest crude streams, Bonny Light and Forcados, which have already taken Nigeria’s output to a 22-year low.
Shell had declared force majeure on Bonny Light crude exports as a result of a leak that led to the closure of Nembe Creek Trunk-line for repairs by the operator, Aiteo Eastern E & P Company Ltd.
Buhari Orders Naval Chief to Reorganise JTF to stop vandals…
President Muhammadu Buhari has directed the Chief of Naval Staff to reorganise and strengthen the military Joint Task Force (JTF) in the Niger Delta to deal effectively with the resurgence of militancy and the sabotage of oil installations.
A statement issued in Abuja yesterday by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Garba Shehu said Buhari gave the assurance at a meeting with the Global Director (Upstream) of the Royal Dutch Shell Group, Mr. Andrew Brown.
The president assured oil companies operating in the Niger Delta that the Federal Government was taking all necessary actions to protect strategic assets in the region from vandals and criminals.
The president told Brown that the operations of the JTF were also being enhanced with increased support and cooperation from the United States and Europe in the areas of training, intelligence, equipment and logistics.
“We have to be very serious with the situation in the Niger Delta because it threatens the national economy. I assure you that everything possible will be done to protect personnel and oil assets in the region,” Buhari said.
The president urged aggrieved persons, militants and communities in the Niger Delta to drop their confrontational stance and work with those who had been charged by the federal government to review the Amnesty Programme initiated by the Yar’Adua Administration for the benefit of all parties.
The president praised the resilience and staying power of Shell in Nigeria despite the operational challenges of the environment.
He urged the company to do its best to end gas-flaring in the Niger Delta quickly and produce more gas for electricity generation to support manufacturing and job creation in the country.
Brown had appealed for an urgent solution to rising crime and militancy in the Niger Delta.
The Shell Executive also dispelled speculations that the company was pulling out of Nigeria.
He said that contrary to such speculations, Shell was currently in discussions with the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) on new joint oil and gas projects.
Last Thursday, the National Economic Council’s Ad-Hoc Committee on Crude Oil Theft Prevention and Control revealed that government lacks adequate operational vessels to patrol the entire pipeline network in the Niger Delta.
Briefing journalists at the end of 67th NEC meeting held yesterday at the Presidential Villa, the Deputy Governor of Bayelsa State, Admiral John Jonah Atuama rtd said the committee also found that massive unemployment among youths in the Niger Delta region contributed to increasing incidence of theft and vandalism.
Atuama said that he reported to the council that the committee set-up sometimes in 2013 consulted widely with relevant stakeholders including the Armed Forces Joint Task Force (JTF), Oil Companies, Oil Producing States, Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) among others.
According to him, the non-availability of petroleum products in the Niger Delta Area was also responsible for re occurrence illegal bunkering.
He said the committee recommended that appropriate technology be procured and deployed in surveillance of the area.
The deputy governor said the committee also suggested that combat vehicles/boats be procured and deployed in difficult terrain to drastically reduce incidents of oil thefts and illegal bunkering.
This, the committee said, would ensure full benefits of uninterrupted supply.