WARRI, Nigeria (AP) — Nigerian militants have bombed an oil export pipeline operated by U.S.-based multinational Chevron, according to the attackers and residents, and the militants are warning companies not to carry out repairs to sabotaged infrastructure that has reduced oil exports from Africa's largest economy to a near 30-year low.
The warning against repairs comes as British-Dutch multinational Shell prepares to resume exports eight months after the Niger Delta Avengers bombed an undersea pipeline and halted exports from Shell's 250,000-barrel-a-day Forcados terminal. The International Energy Agency estimates the Forcados closure lost Nigeria $1 billion in just three months.
In a statement, the Avengers said they "took down" Chevron's 100,000-barrel-a-day offshore pipeline at Escravos in a pre-dawn attack Tuesday. That breaks a three-month cease-fire days before President Muhammadu Buhari is expected to meet with community leaders and other stakeholders in the southern oil-producing region.
The Avengers said peace talks are not progressing and warned the government should not use a proposed dialogue as "a distraction."
Multiple, sophisticated attacks since February cut about a million barrels daily from Nigerian crude oil exports estimated at 2.2 million barrels a day and lost the country its position as Africa's biggest oil exporter.
Some suggest the militants may be backed by politicians from the mainly Christian south who want to sabotage Buhari, a Muslim northerner who beat an incumbent southerner in 2015 elections.
The president has initiated a dialogue and deployed troops who have killed an unknown number of militants and lost several soldiers. Buhari also reinstated allowances paid to former militants under a 2009 amnesty.
The Avengers have said they want to force multinationals out of the oil-producing Niger Delta because careless production has impoverished residents through massive pollution that has destroyed fishing grounds and agricultural fields.