Chevron Platform in Niger Delta Attacked
Chevron has confirmed that militants have attacked one of its platforms off the Escravos Bar, in the Niger Delta region. Chevron Nigeria Limited, operator of a joint venture with the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), said that the attack took place just after 11 PM on Wednesday.
The “Okan offshore facility in the Western Niger Delta region was breached by unknown persons," said Chevron in a statement to Reuters. "The facility is currently shut-in and we are assessing the situation, and have deployed resources to respond to a resulting spill."
Okan is a mature field with a long history for Chevron; the first facility was installed in 1963, and its associated infrastructure has been upgraded over time to meet modern requirements and to capitalize on its associated gas production.
Chevron did not specify the extent of damage to the facility, nor the amount of pollution. No information on casualties was immediately available.
Local media reports – which could not immediately be confirmed – said that the facility had been attacked with explosives, but differed widely in assessments of the damage.
A spokesman for the Nigerian Navy, Commodore Chris Ezekobe, told PunchNG that the platform was “partially damaged,” and that it was an oil and gas collection point for the area. He said that the Navy had deployed additional vessel assets to protect nearby installations.
The Niger Delta Avengers, the militant group which claimed responsibility for the February attack on Shell's Forcados 48-inch export pipeline, said in a post on its website that it had carried out the assault on the offshore facility. “[The] Niger Delta Avengers blow up the Chevron valve platform,” the group wrote. “We want to pass this message to the all international oil companies operating in the Niger Delta that the Nigeria Military cant protect you facilities [sic]. They should talk to the federal government to meet our demands else more mishaps will befall their installations.” The militants say they want a greater share of oil revenues, which make up some 70 percent of national income in Nigeria.
The Niger Delta ex-militant leader Government Ekpemupolo (known as Tompolo), who is wanted by Nigerian authorities in connection with alleged fraud, issued a statement through a spokesman last week that he has no association with any form of ongoing Niger Delta militancy. “Since the declaration of the presidential amnesty program by the late President Yar’Adua in 2009, which he wholeheartedly embraced and accepted, he has sworn not to be part of arm struggles either overtly or covertly,” his statement said.
Pipeline attacks and violence have risen in the Delta since authorities issued an arrest warrant for Tompolo, who said in January that “[President Buhari] should allow the people of the Niger Delta Region to know peace, otherwise he will not know peace as well.” But security analysts Stratfor suggest that he has little incentive to associate with militants, and do not forecast a widespread return to historical patterns of political violence targeting oil installations in the Delta.
The recent unrest adds to a list of troubles facing President Muhammed Buhari's government, including the insurgency by the Islamist militant group Boko Haram, violent clashes over land use between nomadic herders and locals, the perception of widespread corruption, declining revenue from low oil prices, and a longstanding sub-economy of crude oil theft.