Sopuruchi Onwuka, with agency reports
* Output has slumped by almost 50% from Jan 2016
* Niger Delta Avengers claim another pipeline attack
Nigeria’s crude oil and condensate production has fallen almost 50 percent from the start of the year to around 1.1 million b/d, an official from state oil firm Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) said Friday, after reports of a fresh attack on an oil and gas pipeline in the Niger Delta late Thursday.
“The waves of attack on virtually [most] oil pipelines and production facilities in the western division of the Niger Delta have crippled operations there,” the NNPC official told Platts.
“We estimate total production losses to be around 1 million b/d, so we are currently down to 1.1 million b/d,” he added.
Renewed militancy in the oil-rich Niger Delta has resurfaced after years of relative calm, pushing the country’s output to more than 20-year lows.
NNPC said production was averaging around 2.2 million b/d at the start of the year.
In mid-May, oil minister Emmanuel Kachikwu said that production had plummeted to 1.4 million b/d, and since then attacks on oil infrastructure have continued, pushing output down further.
Currently, four Nigerian crude export grades — Qua Iboe, Bonny Light, Brass River and Forcados — are under force majeure.
All of these grades except for Qua Iboe are under force majeure as a direct result of the militant attacks.
Attacks on Nigerian oil and gas facilities have increased largely due to a new militant group that has emerged in the region calling itself the Niger Delta Avengers.
The group has claimed on Twitter that it attacked a gas and crude oil pipeline belonging to state oil firm NNPC despite the presence of government troops guiding the facilities.
“At 11:45pm on Thursday @NDAvengers blew up other #NNPC Gas and Crude trunkline close to Warri,” Niger Delta Avengers said.
An NNPC spokesman said a team of investigators was being put together to verify the claim by the group.
“If it was in the Warri area, I don’t think there is any new pipeline that has not been breached by the militants. But we will investigate,” the spokesman said.
The group also restated its warnings to oil firms to close down their operations in the region, promising to unleash more devastating attacks.
“Oil companies and Nigeria military, watch out something big is about to happen and it will shock the whole world,” it said.
The new militant group also said it has rejected a peace move launched by the Nigerian government on Thursday to end the violence in the region, demanding instead for “a Sovereign State not pipeline contracts.”
The Nigerian government and the nine states of the Niger Delta region agreed Thursday to jointly raise a security team to curb growing militancy.
“The Niger Delta governors must be involved in providing lasting solutions to the resurgence of pipeline vandalism and there is urgent need to create business opportunities for the locals in the region,” said Kachikwu.
Kachikwu called for an end to violence in the oil-rich region and said the government is committed to working with Niger Delta stakeholders to stop the recent surge in attacks.