Accessibility links

As Unrest Continues in Nigeria's Niger Delta, Oil Production Begins Moving Offshore

Security forces remain on high alert in Nigeria’s oil-rich Niger Delta. And local media report more troops and police are being sent to the region.

President Olusegun Obasanjo ordered the heightened security after a number of oil pipelines were attacked and damaged last week.

Andrew Hayman is an oil industry analyst for IHS Energy, a technical consulting firm. From Geneva, he spoke to English to Africa reporter Joe De Capua about continuing violence in the Niger Delta.

“In a sense it’s nothing new. This type of civil disturbance has been going on in the Niger Delta region for several years now. There are a lot of different tribes there that are resident in the Niger Delta area, most of them very poor fishermen with a lot of unemployment. And there’re a lot of disaffected young people there who kind of get pretty unruly from time to time,” he says.

Asked how this affects oil production, Mr. Hayman says, “It can be a very serious hit on the Nigerian production. The current outage is reported to have been about 180,000 barrels per day out of a national production of about two and a half million barrels a day. So that’s getting up towards 10 percent, which is significant. And what is means is the producing companies are not able to fulfill their obligations in terms of oil loadings.”

Many countries, including the United States, are coming to depend on Nigerian oil. The HIS Energy analyst says, “Pretty significantly. I mean Nigeria is I believe the fifth largest importer of crude oil into the states. And with the US requirement for diversity of oil supply, West Africa is indeed a major focus for them. But moving on from that point, I think it’s important to realize that a lot of the current effort is moving toward offshore exploration as well as onshore. So, although a lot of the Nigerian production comes from the onshore Niger Delta areas, which are susceptible to this kind of civil disturbance, there is also a lot of offshore production. And that is much more secure and that is where the focus of effort is moving for the next five years or so.”

Mr. Hayman says there are large oil deposits offshore, but adds oil production would also be more secure.