By Jeff Moore, Muir Analytics
(This is Part 2 of a 3-part article. Part 1 is available here.)
Recent violence in the Niger Delta includes the 4 April 2012 seizing of 14 Shell workers by 1,000 MEND supporters, demanding, “electricity, potable water, and other basic amenities.” Three days before this, a group seemingly associated with MEND’s cause led by a charismatic “Commander Cairo” bombed five cluster oil wells of National Agip Oil Company. This happened in Bayelsa State between River Niger and Tailor Creek. The rebels said they would keep attacking and intensify their violence – including targeting Shell – unless the government met their demands. They specifically threatened in their next attack, “nobody will be spared.”1
One of the most recent attacks attributed to MEND was on 1 March 2012 when its fighters ambushed a maritime police patrol on the Nembe River, Bayelsa state, killing four. Usually, MEND attacks oil assets, not just government security personnel, so this might signify a change in its targeting. In another development, MEND officials in March said they were considering taking custody of three foreigners kidnapped by pirates (not associated with MEND) off Port Harcourt on 28 February.2
Prior to this, on 6 February, MEND struck one of Eni’s pipelines near the Brass River, causing the disruption of 4,000 bbl a day. It was reportedly the first MEND attack in a year’s time. MEND announced that, while this operation was small, it was, nevertheless, “…a sign of things to come.” It levied a more pointed threat by saying, “Our silence thus far has been strategic and, at the right time, we will reduce Nigerian oil production to zero and drive off our land thieving oil companies.” MEND additionally blamed the government for motivating the attacks, saying, “the floundering government of Nigeria is more concerned with enriching themselves than attending to the problems of the Niger Delta and the continuously depreciating standard of living of the ordinary Nigerian.”3 Interestingly, many of MEND’s statements originate in Ireland.
Pakistan is yet another LIC zone where violence against oil and gas assets are common. In fact, in February 2011, the Pakistani Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources submitted a report to the president and prime minister explaining militants’ goals to wreck the economy, in part by attacking up and downstream energy assets. There are scores of insurgent and terror groups in Pakistan, al Qaeda and the Taliban chief among them. They aim to overthrow of the government and establish an Islamist jihadist caliphate. They have kidnapped and killed Pakistani and foreign oil and gas workers, and they have rocketed E&P assets, too. Some of their wrath has focused on the prosperous Manzalai gas field.4
Two recent attacks on oil and gas assets in Pakistan happened in April this year in Balochistan province. In the first, on 24 April, bombers detonated an explosive device severing an eight-inch pipe in Dera Bugti district near Well No. 29. This halted gas feeding into a nearby purification plant. In the second, on 25 April, bombers struck an 18-inch pipe in the Pir Koh area of Dera Bugti that carried gas from three wells into a plant in Sui.5 Since 25 February, there were at least three other bombings of pipelines in Dera Bugti and one on Ring Road near Peshwar.
Balochistan, one of Pakistan’s largest provinces, is home not only to a wealth of natural resources such as natural gas and minerals, but also to an active insurgency aiming to secede the province from the rest of Pakistan. Groups such as the Balochistan Liberation Army and Baloch Republican Army are highly active there.
In a more dramatic attack, on 11 February, assailants mortared, rocketed, and raked with machinegun fire a gas plant in Gargari, Karak district, inflicting heavy damage, including destroying an oil tanker.6 Petroleum Secretary Ijaz Chaudhry complained about the incident, saying energy companies countrywide were facing deadly threats from militants that were causing E&P and downstream stoppages. He insisted Pakistan needed to improve security or else more attacks on the energy sector would occur, particularly at Manzalai field, also in Karak.7
End of Part 2
Part 1 of "Oil and Gas in the Crosshairs" can be found here.
Part 3 can be found here.
More information on LICs in the southeast Asia region is found in the Southeat Asia Threat Survery, available from PennEnergy Research.
1“Shell workers kidnapped over demand for electricity,” Channel STV, 3 April 2012, http://www.channelstv.com/home/2012/04/03/shell-workers-kidnapped-over-demand-for-electricity/ and “Ex-militants bomb five Agip oil wells,” Vanguard Nigeria, 2 April 2012, http://www.vanguardngr.com/2012/04/ex-militants-bomb-five-agip-oil-wells/.
2“Nigeria's MEND claims fatal attack on police,” al Jazeera, 2 March 2012, http://www.aljazeera.com/news/africa/2012/03/201232171741677448.html
3“MEND blamed for with Nigerian oil attack,” UPI, 6 February 2012, http://www.upi.com/Business_News/Energy-Resources/2012/02/06/MEND-blamed-for-with-Nigerian-oil-attack/UPI-15781328534853/, and “Nigeria oil militants Mend 'hit Eni Bayelsa pipeline’,” BBC, 5 February 2012, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-16896508.
4“Govt issues 20 more CNG licences, despite ban,” South Asian Media Net, 24 Apr 2012.
5“Balochistan: attacks on gas pipelines and transmission pylon,” Journal of Energy Security, 25 April 2012, http://www.ensec.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=364:balochistan-attacks-on-gas-pipeline-and-transmission-pylon&catid=125:ak&Itemid=395, and “Pakistan: Gas pipeline blown up in Dera Bugti,” Right Vision News, 21 April 2012.
6“Gas plant camp in Karak attacked,” The News Tribe, 11 February 2012, http://www.thenewstribe.com/2012/02/11/gas-plant-camp-in-karak-attacked/.
7“Govt issues 20 more CNG licences, despite ban,” South Asian Media Net, 24 Apr 2012.