Royal Dutch Shell Plc  .com Rotating Header Image

Nigerian troops prepare for oil war after rebels threaten attacks

The Times: Nigerian troops prepare for oil war after rebels threaten attacks

“On Tuesday, Royal Dutch Shell, which produces half of Nigeria’s daily output, said that it had had to shut down one of its flow stations. It said that the decision had cost it 28,000 barrels a day of production.”

By Jonathan Clayton in Johannesburg and Katharine Houreld

September 30, 2004

SEPARATIST rebels issued an ultimatum to multinational oil companies and foreign workers to quit Nigeria’s oil-rich southern Niger Delta by tomorrow and have threatened war against the State.

Nigeria’s Armed Forces vowed to crush the rebels and a special military task force (JTF) began round-the-clock patrols in the oil city of Port Harcourt and surrounding creeks, from where militia fighters often conduct acts of sabotage.

Nigeria is Africa’s leading oil producer and hundreds have died in unrest in the Niger Delta region. This week, insecurity in the area helped to drive world oil prices above $50 a barrel.

The Niger Delta People’s Volunteer Force (NDPVF) militia say that the Ijaw people of the area derive little benefit from an estimated production of some 2.3 million barrels per day and have threatened to attack oil installations unless they receive justice.

“With such an unguarded threat from the gang leader, the JTF is being catalysed to manifest full military colour,” Captain Onyema Kanu, a JTF spokesman, said.

The rebel leader Mujahid Dokubo Asari told The Times in a recent interview: “We are fighting to control the resources of the Ijaw people. Nigeria is a fraudulent creation and the oil companies are evil collaborators.” The Ijaws are Nigeria’s fourth-largest ethnic group.

On Tuesday, Royal Dutch Shell, which produces half of Nigeria’s daily output, said that it had had to shut down one of its flow stations. It said that the decision had cost it 28,000 barrels a day of production. It admitted that it had curtailed the movement of its staff through the creeks where the militias are active.

Along with Agip, of Italy, and Total, of France, the company sought to play down fears that it would pull out of the country, but the assurances have failed to calm jittery markets. Nigeria sells its high-grade light crude to China and the United States, the world’s two largest oil consumers, and accounts for 10 per cent of US crude imports.

The announcement of round-the-clock patrols came as Mr Asari said that he was in the capital, Abuja, for talks with President Obasanjo. There were unconfirmed reports that a ceasefire had been agreed, but it was unclear whether the militia would agree to the terms of any deal.

The Government sent troops to Port Harcourt, the capital of Rivers State, and other parts of the Delta after fighting between two gangs for control of the area’s illegal crude oil extraction. Smuggling cartels control a huge illegal business in the area, estimated to be worth £5.5 million a week. They siphon oil from the multinationals’ pipelines, transfer it to barrels and then ferry it on speedboats to “black ” tankers.

Industry analysts say that the NDPVF, which is able to exploit public anger over the region’s poverty, was worried that local politicians were moving in on its patch and ordered international oil companies to leave the Delta.

Until now, the illegal trade has never been allowed to threaten legal business, but recently the gangs have become more demanding and the Government has been losing the struggle to protect oil production. Expatriate workers are frequently kidnapped for ransom.

Two Americans working for ChevronTexaco were killed in May. Mr Asari says that he forbids his men to participate in kidnapping, but admits to “liberating” oil from the pipelines.

The Nigerian Navy says that it has been hampered in its efforts to arrest Mr Asari.

Mr Asari locates his camps in creeks so narrow that mangrove branches scratch both sides of incoming speedboats.

Equipment may not be the only problem facing the military. Mr Asari told The Times that he had friends in the Government and police who tip him off when a raid is expected.

royaldutchshellplc.com and its also non-profit sister websites royaldutchshellgroup.com, shellenergy.website, shellnazihistory.com, royaldutchshell.website, johndonovan.website, shellnews.net and shell2004.com are all owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia article.

0 Comments on “Nigerian troops prepare for oil war after rebels threaten attacks”

Leave a Comment

%d bloggers like this: