The Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) has confirmed that a crude oil pipeline in Bayelsa state, operated by the local subsidiary of Italy’s Eni, was attacked in the early hours of Sunday.
The attack comes just days after President Buhari and the Minister of State for Petroleum, Ibe Kachikwu, met with a Shell Team and reassured them of the Federal Government’s commitment to providing security for oil companies in the Niger Delta region.
The Niger Delta Avengers had earlier claimed responsibility for an attack on a Chevron Platform Valve closing down the 250,000-barrel a day export terminal. They had expressed their desire to seek a Sovereign State of the Niger Delta. A new militant group, Red Egbesu Water Lions, recently emerged with a seven-day ultimatum for the Federal Government to release IPOB leader, Nnamdi Kanu, and former NSA, Sambo Dansuki.
President Muhammadu Buhari told the Team, who had expressed worries about the resurgence of militancy in the region, that he had heightened the military presence in the oil-rich Niger Delta region, where attacks in the last few weeks have driven the country’s oil output to a more than 20-year low.
A spokesman for the NSDC, Mr Desmond Agu, said the Agip pipeline was attacked in the early hours of Sunday, around 12:30 a.m.
“A gang of armed youths … vandalised pipeline along Azuzuama axis of the Tebidaba-Brass pipeline with dynamite and ignited fire on the line.”
He added that one of the suspected attackers had been arrested.
At the time of the report, Eni, which operates in Nigeria through its subsidiary Nigerian Agip Oil Company, could not be immediately reached to comment on the attack.
Former militants have called for a halt to a resurgence of attacks in the Niger Delta, saying it is an unnecessary hindrance to Buhari’s administration. President Buhari has asked militants in the Niger Delta to set aside a confrontational approach and work with his government.