The Shell Petroleum Development Company Limited, the Nigerian subsidiary of Dutch oil giant, Royal Dutch Shell, on Friday confirmed militants’ claims that a major damage was done to its oil installations in Delta State in the early hours of Friday, saying the attack had forced it to shut down crude exports indefinitely.
The statement corroborates earlier statements by the Niger Delta Avengers, a new militant group that has claimed responsibility for a series of attacks on oil installations, in renewed hostilities across the oil-rich region.
The Avengers had shortly after 5 a.m. on Tuesday announced the bombing of a 48’’ export pipeline owned by Shell in the Forcados on Twitter.
“At 3:00 a.m. today, @NDAvengers blow (sic) up the SPDC forcados 48″ export line. We warned SPDC not to go ahead with repair works but they refuse,” the group tweeted.
Responding to news of the attack, Shell’s spokesman, Bamidele Odugbesan, said the incident happened between a shoreline and the Forcados Export Terminal which impacted seriously on its export capabilities.
“The Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited, operator of the SPDC JV, has confirmed signs of a leak on the 48 inch Forcados export pipeline at a location between shoreline and the Forcados terminal in the western Niger Delta, coming on the heels of a reported attack on the pipeline in the early hours of Friday, June 3,” the statement said.
Mr. Odugbesan said the company was assessing the impact of the damage and had “mobilised appropriate oil spill response measures”.
“We are yet to fully evaluate the potential impact and damage to the pipeline resulting from this latest incident. We have however mobilised appropriate oil spill response measures and will be conducting a joint investigation visit to the leak site with relevant stakeholders.
“We are currently focused on securing the pipeline to protect the environment. Given this latest incident and the wider security situation in the Niger Delta, we are unable to determine probable timing of resumption of exports from the Forcados terminal,” Mr. Odugbesan said.
Shell Nigeria is “the operator of the export line on behalf of the joint venture partners comprising the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC (55%), SPDC (30%), Total E&P Nigeria Ltd (10%) and Nigerian Agip Oil Company (5%),” the statement said.
The latest damage to Shell installations followed a series of bombings that rocked Chevron, Agip, and NNPC oil and gas installations across the Niger Delta in the last few days, including other Shell-operated facilities.
On Thursday night, the group made a similar claims on its Twitter account, saying it blew up “Ogboinbiri to Tebidaba and Clough Creek to Tebidaba crude oil pipelines in Bayelsa State,” as part of its campaign to bring Nigeria’s oil production output to “zero”.
On Wednesday, the Avengers said it was responsible for the destruction of Chevron oil wells RMP 23 and RMP 24, and mocked Nigeria’s military for being only “good in harassing innocent civilians.”
Nigerian military on Wednesday denied the militants’ claims that it had become helpless in the circumstance, saying it would not be negligent in its obligations to Nigerians.
“The Defence Headquarters wishes to emphasize that the Nigerian Armed Forces will not relent in their efforts to flush out economic saboteurs masquerading under whatever guise to perpetuate evils in the Niger Delta,” Rabe Abubakar, the Acting Director of Defence Information, said in a statement.
The Avengers is demanding a sovereign nation of the Niger Delta people.
Last month, the group rejected a meeting convened in Abuja by the federal government, warning of its readiness to carry out an attack that will “shock the whole world”.
“The Niger Delta stakeholder’s meeting is an insult to the people of Niger Delta. What we need is a Sovereign State not pipeline Contracts,” the militants said.