ABUJA - In Nigeria, attacks against oil pipelines and facilities appear to have resumed after a lull at the end of last month. A militant group, the Niger Delta Avengers, is calling for greater development in the oil-producing south and has vowed to reduce Nigeria’s oil production to zero unless its demands are met. After nearly a seven-year hiatus, militancy in the Niger Delta is back in full force.
A gang known as the Niger Delta Avengers says it attacked five oil installations in the past three days. The group announced Sunday on Twitter that its members hit three oil pipelines owned by the Nigerian state oil company and two facilities owned by Chevron.
Chevron and the Nigerian oil company confirmed the attacks.
Later, the Avengers' Twitter account went offline. It was not clear if that meant the account had been blocked or if the group removed it.
Huge drop in production
Attacks by the Avengers this year have brought Nigeria's oil production to a near 20-year low, costing as much as 600,000 barrels of oil per day.
The Nigerian government relies on crude for 70 percent of its revenue, and the country is sinking into a recession.
President Muhammadu Buhari has said he will not be intimidated, but also said he wants dialogue.
The government said it negotiated a truce last month. But these fresh attacks cast further doubt on reports of talks.
“There is no practical demonstration. There is no putting action his statement," said Eric Omare, the spokesman of the highly influential Ijaw Youth Council in the Delta. "We had expected him before now to start the process of discussion by calling community leaders for a meeting personally as the president of the federal republic of Nigeria, as his predecessors did. But he hasn’t done that.”
The Ijaw Youth Council in the Delta helped to mediate talks between the government and the MEND militant group back in 2009.
That amnesty deal gave ex-militants money, job training and even work guarding pipelines in exchange for peace. But Buhari cut much of the funding for the program off this year. And the Avengers emerged.
Grievances in the region remain much the same. The area remains impoverished and polluted. The Avengers say that unless that begins to change, the attacks on oil companies will continue.