Nigerian Militants Threaten to Widen Attacks on Oil Industry

LAGOS (Capital Markets in Africa) – The Niger Delta Avengers, a militant group whose attacks on infrastructure curbed Nigerian oil output last year, threatened to widen its campaign after becoming frustrated with government talks.

“The Nigerian state is not ready for any form of dialogue and negotiation with our people to addressing the issues sustaining the unending sufferings and deprivation,” the Avengers said in a Jan. 6 posting on its website. The militants said the Jan. 3 award by Nigerian National Petroleum Corp. of crude contracts to traders such as Glencore Plc and Trafigura Group Ltd. is “a conspiracy against our people that will fail.”

The Avengers engaged with the government after calling a cease-fire in August, allowing Nigerian oil production to rebound from the lowest in almost three decades. The militants want a greater share of the riches extracted from the Delta region spent on local schools, hospitals and other essential services.

“I always said the boys were on holiday and there was only an ‘imaginary cease-fire’,” Dolapo Oni, Lagos-based head of Ecobank Energy Research, said in an e-mailed response to questions. “The issues remained unattended, especially the social issues in the Niger Delta.”

Victoria Dix, a spokeswoman for Trafigura in Geneva, and Charles Watenphul, a spokesman for Glencore, declined to comment. Florence Lebeau, a spokeswoman for refiner, pipeline, storage and service station operator Varo Energy, whose major shareholders include the world’s biggest independent oil trader Vitol Group and private equity fund Carlyle International Energy Partners, also declined to comment.

Dashed Hopes
Oando Plc, a Nigerian energy company, lost 20 percent of its production over 12 months due to militant attacks, Group Chief Executive Officer Wale Tinubusaid on November 3. The company, which was also listed by the Avengers, didn’t answer an e-mail regarding the latest threat.

“To our Niger Delta people, we feel your pains from these dashed hopes of a genuine talk,” said the Avengers, which cited the international oil traders, local companies and refineries awarded contracts by NNPC three days ago. “All fighters and commands are hereby placed on high readiness in your webs of operations to hit and knock the enemy very hard.”

While the Avengers claimed the most attacks in the oil-rich Niger Delta, other groups have also emerged.

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