In the wake of renewed hostilities in the Niger Delta region, President Muhammadu Buhari has reassured oil companies of his administration’s commitment to protecting lives and property in the region.
He gave the assurance in Abuja on Friday at a meeting with the Global Director (Upstream) of the Royal Dutch Shell Group, Andrew Brown.
Buhari said he had directed the Chief of Naval Staff to strengthen the military Joint Task Force (JTF) in the region in a bid to tackle the recent upsurge in militancy and the sabotage of oil installations.
The President also said that the activities of the Task Force is being aided with support and cooperation from the United States and EU in the areas of training, intelligence, equipment and logistics. The president urged aggrieved persons, militants and communities in the Niger Delta to drop their confrontational stance and partner with relevant agencies in ensuring speedy development of the region.
Buhari praised the resilience of Shell in Nigeria in spite the operational challenges of the environment. He urged the company to do its best to end gas-flaring in the Niger Delta and produce more gas for electricity generation to support manufacturing and job creation in the country.
Earlier, Brown appealed for an urgent solution to rising crime and militancy in the Niger Delta. The Shell executive also dispelled speculations that the company was pulling out of Nigeria. He said on the contrary, Shell was currently in discussions with the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation on new joint oil and gas projects.
Militancy which was hitherto on the decline has been re-launched by various armed groups in the region who have taken to vandalizing pipelines and blowing up critical oil facilities in parts of the oil-rich region. These include a Royal Dutch Shell production facility, a Chevron Valve Platform in Abiteye, and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) crude and gas lines.