Impact on Escravos not yet clear
By Tife Owolabi and Libby George
LAGOS/LONDON, Nigeria, Nov 9 (Reuters) – Royal Dutch Shell has shut down an Escravos crude oil flow station in Nigeria’s Niger Delta after villagers demanding aid staged a protest, the firm and residents said on Wednesday.
In another blow to the oil major, the Niger Delta Avengers (NDA) militant group said it had attacked the Forcados crude export line.
Shell said the flow station on the pipeline operated by its joint-venture partner SPDC was no longer processing crude oil, but the impact on Escravos exports, which can run via other routes, was not immediately clear.
Protest leader Shyne Edema said his group was demonstrating at the facility, shutting down power and water supplies as well as crude production, to press Shell into providing aid.
This is a common refrain in the neglected region that provides much of Nigeria’s oil output.
“Today is the eighth day of the protest,” he said. “We have laid siege at the facility from dusk to dawn since then. We are there now as I speak.”
He said the protesters complained about Shell’s “neglect of its social responsibility of providing good roads, water and electricity for its host communities where none of these things exist.”
Shell said it was “engaging” the Delta state government and local leaders to discuss the grievances.
“SPDC provides power to Ugborodo communities through company-maintained diesel generating sets, pending the completion of the electricity project for the communities,” Shell said.
Oil firms spend funds on the development of host communities but impoverished villagers say this is just a drop in the bucket.
Demanding a greater share of oil revenues in the Niger Delta region, militants have made a number of attacks on crude and gas pipelines this year.
One of the most active militant groups, the NDA, confirmed to Reuters by email that it had attacked Shell’s Forcados export pipeline. On Twitter, the group said the strike occurred on Tuesday at 1045 p.m. local time.
A community leader, Chief New-World Endoro, said there was an oil spill at the site of the attack. Soldiers were now patrolling the area, he added.
Several attacks have been claimed on the pipeline since President Muhammadu Buhari met last week with community leaders and representatives of militants to address complaints of poverty.
An attack last week forced the closure of the Trans Forcados Pipeline, cutting the OPEC member’s oil production by at least 200,000 barrels per day.
Before last week’s attack, Oil Minister Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu said oil output had risen to 2.1 million barrels a day.
Before that, a wave of attacks had caused production to plunge to just 1.37 million barrels per day in May, the lowest level since July 1988, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA), from 2.2 million barrels in January 2016.
Any ceasefire would be difficult to enforce as the militants are splintered into small groups of young unemployed men whom even their leaders struggle to control.
(Reporting by Libby George, Anamesere Igboeroteonwu, Tife Owolabi, Ulf Laessing and Alexis Akwagyiram; Writing by Ulf Laessing; Editing by Greg Mahlich and Tom Heneghan)