Nigeria seeks US help to curb sabotage in Niger Delta

Eric Watkins
OGJ Oil Diplomacy Editor

LOS ANGELES, May 3--Nigeria’s Foreign Minister Odein Ajumogobia said his country will seek US security expertise to help curb violence against the oil industry in the Niger Delta.

"A volatile and unstable Niger Delta will cause higher pump prices and energy cost in the US and around the world,” Ajumogobia said, adding, “The mutual benefit is clear.”

Ajumogobia said Nigeria has created four special panels to liaise with the US on energy, security, good governance, and agriculture.

The minister said the working group on security will determine how best to use the expertise and resources of both partners to ensure the success of Nigeria's post-amnesty program.

Armed groups in the Niger Delta have been attacking the country's oil installations for several years, but under a government amnesty offer last year, they stopped the attacks on promises of jobs and cash.

Around 20,000 fighters laid down their weapons after then-President Umaru Yar'Adua offered an unconditional pardon to the militants fighting for a fairer share of the region’s oil revenues.

However, Ajummgobia’s statement coincided with rebel claims to have blown up a Royal Dutch Shell PLC pipeline and threatened further attacks in the Niger Delta.

“This is in continuation of our armed campaign for the dissolution of Nigeria and the establishment of an independent Niger Delta state,” said the militant Joint Revolutionary Council that claimed responsibility for the attack in Buguma in Rivers, Nigeria's main oil producing state.

The group threatened further strikes that would make the latest attack seem like “child’s play.”

Nigeria's oil union recently urged the country’s acting president to stem rising insecurity, saying that sectarian violence and attacks on oil facilities were hurting the country.

In a letter to President Goodluck Jonathan, the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria said the government had failed to provide adequate security.

The union emphasized continued unrest in the Niger Delta, despite the government amnesty for repentant militants in the oil-rich region.

It said the slow implementation of the amnesty led to a “resurgence of kidnappings and attacks on our members and oil and gas installations in the Niger Delta region.”
The union said, “This situation must not be allowed to continue.”

Meanwhile, Eni SPA said a disruption at its Agip subsidiary’s Brass River oil operation cut production by 12,000 b/d and forced the Italian firm into declaring force majeure. The company did not rule out a possible attack by militants as causing the disruption.

Contact Eric Watkins at hippalus@yahoo.com.



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