After a year of ceasefire, militants under the aegis of the Niger Delta Avengers on Wednesday threatened to attack some offshore oil and gas facilities in the oil-rich region in a few days’ time.
In 2016, the nation saw a resurgence of militant attacks on oil and gas facilities in the Niger Delta, causing oil production to plummet to near 30-year lows of around 1.6 million barrels per day in August.
“This round of attacks will be the most deadly and will be targeting the deep sea operations of the multinationals,” the group said in a statement on its website.
It said its targets, in the seas off the swampland delta region, would include the Bonga Platform and the Agbami, EA and Akpo fields. The militants also said they would target the Nigerian oil company, Brittania-U.
Shell operates the Bonga and EA fields, while Chevron is the operator of Agbami. Akpo stakeholders include Total, China’s CNOOC, Brazil’s Petrobras and Nigeria’s Sapetro.
“As for the Egina FPSO, we are advising the operators to let it stay wherever it is right now as we are tracking its movement. We mean it when we say they (the oil installations) shall dance to the sound of the fury of the Niger Delta Avengers,” the militants threatened.
Attacks on pipelines and other facilities in the Niger Delta in 2016 cut Nigeria’s crude production from a peak of 2.2 million barrels per day to near one million bpd, the lowest level in at least 30 years.
That, combined with low oil prices, pushed the country into its first recession in a quarter of a century as crude sales make up two-thirds of government revenue and most of its foreign exchange earnings.
The militants agreed to a ceasefire in August 2016, a development that helped pull the country out of recession in the second quarter of last year. But they called off the truce in November.
Any resumption of attacks will pile pressure on President Muhammadu Buhari, who is also facing separatist groups in the South-East, Islamist militants in the North-East and elections in 2019.
The government has held talks to address grievances over poverty and oil pollution in the Delta for more than a year but community groups say no progress has been made.
The militant group said talks “have not achieved any meaningful results.”
“While promising a brutal outpour of our wrath, which shall shake the coffers of the failed Nigerian nation, our demand unambiguously is for the government to restructure this country,” said the group, calling for the Niger Delta to have direct control over its resources.
The Niger Delta Avengers bombed the Forcados subsea pipeline in 2016, a strike that involved the use of divers. No substantial attacks have been carried out by any group in the region since January 2017.
The group also lashed out at the armed forces for killing an alleged notorious kidnapper and waterways robber, Kareowei.
The group said the government committed $1bn to the fight against insurgency in the North-East, but left youths in the Niger Delta to suffer.