Recent Nigerian Attacks Seem Targeted at Oil Giant Eni

The International Maritime Bureau’s (IMB’s) recently-articulated worries over Nigeria’s worsening security have been given more merit by the most current events in Nigeria. Both sea and land attacks have recently plagued Nigeria. The latest of these events, the hijacking of a FPSO vessel off the coast of Port Harcourt and the bombing of three oil pipelines in the Niger Delta, seemed targeted at the Italian oil company Eni S.p.A.

The hijacking of Eni’s the Mystras FPSO vessel occurred on the morning of May 3, 2007. The Mystras, jointly managed by SBM and Saipem, was anchored 55 miles off the coast of Port Harcourt, Nigeria on the Okono field when Nigerian gunmen in four boats attacked the vessel. According to the IMB’s Weekly Piracy Report, the gunmen successfully hijacked the boat by boarding it “via the anchor chain” and kidnapped at least 5 people.

Eni released a statement on May 3 on its Web site regarding the hijacking: “The workers seized this morning from the FPSO Mystras in Nigeria have all been released to the Chief Security Officer of the Rivers State. They are all reported to be in good health and will undertake all necessary medical check ups shortly once they will be handed back to the Saipem team. Additionally, Eni informs that although no damage to the vessel has been reported, the plant has been secured and production has been temporarily suspended. Mystras FPSO vessel is supplied by crude oil coming from Okono and Okpoho fields jointly producing 65,000 b/d, of which Eni equity is 11,500 b/d. Eni is undertaking all the due controls in order to get the production back to normal in the shortest time possible.”

Tuesday’s bombings of three oil pipelines in the Niger Delta also forced Eni to stop production. On its Web site, Eni posted an official statement on May 8 about the sabotage: “Eni confirms that Ogoda-Brass and Tebidaba-Brass pipelines have been sabotaged. Production from Akri and Oshi fields has been suspended as a precautionary measure. Activities in order to restore the pipelines are already underway.” The Brass terminal is capable of exporting 200,000 bpd. With it shut down, Eni is losing a lot of money.

The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, which took credit for the pipeline bombings in an email, has now shut down more than a quarter of Nigerian oil output. Before these latest pipeline attacks, around 700,000 bpd of Nigeria’s 3 million bpd output capacity were already being lost. Nevertheless, members of the Movement have sworn to perpetrate further attacks on oil companies in the region. It seems that Eni and the other oil companies in Nigeria should prepare for more involuntarily shutdowns in the near future.