The Presidency yesterday summoned an emergency meeting on the security situation in the Niger Delta where a new militant group has virtually paralysed oil production through mass attacks on pipelines and other facilities.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo chaired the meeting, which was attended by security chiefs, CEOs of oil firms and other relevant stakeholders from the Niger Delta.
The meeting was called by the Federal Government to seek ways to contain the growing attacks on oil facilities by the Niger Delta Avengers (NDA), which has given 12 conditions to be met by President Muhammadu Buhari before it lays down arms.
The group has threatened to cripple the nation’s oil exports if its demands are not met.
Osinbajo first met with some security chiefs from the Nigerian
Navy and Nigerian Army, the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu and other top government functionaries.
He also met separately with the Bayelsa State Governor Seriake Dickson and a renowned traditional ruler in the state, Amayanabo of Toun Brass, King Alfred Diete-Spiff.
Along with Diete-Spiff and Dickson, Osinbajo met with some oil companies including Shell, Total, AGIP, the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) and Chevron.
The meeting came a day after the Federal Government sent gunboats and troops to some parts of the Niger Delta, especially Gbaramatu Kingdom in Delta State to crush the militants.
Meanwhile, there are indications that Chevron, which is among the oil firms worst hit by the renewed attacks, has opened talks with the Niger Delta Avengers.
It was learnt that the American oil company is secretly negotiating with the representatives of the Niger Delta Avengers to gain access to its damaged facilities at Escravos.
Chevron and the Niger Delta Avengers are meeting in Malta, an Island in South Italy, where the American oil giant is trying to reach an agreement with Niger Delta Avengers for the company to gain access and repair its damaged facilities.
Attempts to get a response on the matter failed as Mr. Deji Haastrup, Chevron’s Group Managing Director (Public Affairs Division), did not pick calls put to his cell phone.
Prior to this development, the Nigerian Navy had last Thursday confirmed that the militants attacked an offshore facility belonging to Chevron.
The Voice of America (VOA) reported that the latest attack stoked the embers of a renewed militancy in the Niger Delta, which was the site of an insurgency by communities demanding a greater share of oil wealth.
Citing the Nigeria Navy spokesman, Chris Ezekobe, VOA said the attackers used explosive devices to blow up a facility that collected oil and gas near the major Escravos export terminal in Delta State.
There were no casualties, Ezekobe said. He didn’t know if any oil had spilled.
Indeed, tension has been mounting in the Niger Delta following the resurgence of militant activities resulting in the coordinated bombings of oil and gas facilities in the region.
The NDA has claimed responsibility for the recent attacks on a Shell facility at Forcados, Chevron Okan platform at Abiteye in Escravos as well as pipelines transporting oil to the Warri and Kaduna refineries.
Yesterday, three soldiers attached to the Joint military Force in the Niger Delta code-named Operation Pulo Shield were feared to have been killed in an ambush by a gang of unknown gunmen in Bayelsa State.
The new developments have prompted President Muhammadu Buhari to threaten to deal with the militants like the Federal Government is dealing with Boko Haram insurgents.
As part of his plans to make good his threat, President Buhari has directed the military to uncover those behind the bombing of oil and gas installations in the oil-bearing and producing Niger Delta region.