Posted by News Express | 9 May 2016 | 3,213 times
The activities of Niger Delta Avengers, the new militant group in the oil-rich region, have forced Royal Dutch Shell to evacuate most of its staff from its production facility, Eja OML 79. This came as different security agencies and militants held separate undisclosed meetings to re-appraise their tactics, following a fresh directive by President Muhammadu Buhari that the group, which claimed responsibility for the recent bombing of oil/gas installations in Warri, Delta State, be overpowered.
Shell evacuation was carried out by three helicopters weekend. The evacuation saw 98 key personnel airlifted by helicopters from Eja OML 79, run by Royal Dutch Nigerian subsidiary, Shell Petroleum Development Corporation, SPDC, where production of 90,000 barrels of oil per day has been halted. Sources said that a small group of staff was left on the platform to carry out skeletal operations. The staff and facility are offered protection by two gunboats belonging to the Military Joint Taskforce. Close to Eja 79 is the Bonga Field, which has a larger production capacity and is operated by another Shell subsidiary, Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company, SNEPCO.
Sources said some staff had been evacuated from Bonga, while the wider security implication is being reviewed by the company. Last week, Niger Delta Avengers, blew up Chevron Valve Platform in Abiteye, Warri North Local Government Area of Delta State. They had earlier in the year, blown up pipelines in the state. Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State, who spoke at the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, South-South governors meeting in Asaba, condemned the recent attack on Chevron facility, adding that “gas pipeline vandalism is very unfortunate.”
On its part, the militant group seemed not ready to backtrack from its vow to devastate oil installations in the region and other parts of the country. A source close to the group said: “The boys are not afraid of the security agencies, they will cripple oil and gas supply to the country as long as government remains recalcitrant to their demands.”
Last month, spokesperson of the group, Col. Madoch Agbinibo, said: “The Presidency can set up a permanent security force as stated by the Vice President when he visited the SPDC, Forcados Terminal. We are not deterred by such threats and shall continue blowing up pipelines until the Niger Delta people are no longer marginalised by the Nigerian actors.”
•Excerpted from a Vanguard report.
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