A new attack by the Niger Delta Avengers set back Nigerian oil production by 10,000 barrels per day, according to local media reports.
The incident took place late Sunday evening and targeted a pipeline run by Nigerian Agip Oil Company (NAOC) and damaged trunk lines that link terminals for Brass and Bonny crude oil warehouses.
Last Friday, the country’s petroleum resources minister, Ibe Kachikwe, noted that negotiations with separatist groups operating in the Delta had begun failing, causing attacks to regain momentum.
“We are working on [dialogue with militants] and I need to meet with Mr. President for I just returned and obviously there’s a lot more engagement that is required,” the minister said. “There are gaps that seem to have developed and I need to understand what issues warranted that. But we will work towards closing those gaps.”
Nigerian oil officials had said earlier that pipeline repairs in the Niger River Delta could help the country to recover its lost production rate in the coming months, according to Reuters.
One week prior to the government’s optimistic announcement, production had spiked from 1.6 million barrels per day to 1.9 million bpd as several days had passed without attacks from the Niger Delta Avengers or related separatist groups, said Garba Deen Muhammad, a spokesman for the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).
“Production has increased because we are making repairs to damaged pipelines and installations. And we have not had any major attacks in recent times,” he said.
The militants demand that a greater share of Nigeria’s oil wealth go to the impoverished Delta region – the source of a large portion of the west African country’s energy resources. These goals have led the groups to carry out a series of pipeline attacks in the last few months.
The groups – which promise to attack only oil-related properties, not civilians – have caused Nigeria to lose its position as the continent’s largest energy supplier to Angola.