Militants threaten with deadly attacks against offshore installations in Nigeria

An FPSO (Photo released by NDA)

“The high command of the Niger Delta Avengers wishes all Niger Deltans a happy New Year as we admonish the Nigerian Government to brace up for the doom we have finished all arrangement to unleash on the oil sector in a few days time.”

 This is the opening sentence of a statement the Nigerian militant organization Niger Delta Avengers released on Wednesday, threatening the oil companies and the Nigeria government with “deadly” attacks targeting offshore oil and gas installation.

In its Wednesday statement the militants said (not edited) :”This round of attacks will be the most deadly and will be targeting the deep sea operations of the multinationals which include Bonga Platform, Agbami, EA Field, Britania-U Field, Akpo Field; amongst others littered across the deep waters of the Niger Delta region. As for the Egina FPSO, we are advising the operators to let it stay where ever it is right now as we are tracking it’s movement. We mean it when we say they (the oil installations) shall dance to the sound of the fury of the Niger Delta Avengers. Good a thing the ocean is wide enough to accommodate as many wreck as possible.”

Bonga and EA Fields are operated by Shell, Agbami by Chevron, Akpo and Egina by Total.

Offshore Energy Today has reached out to Shell seeking comment. A spokesperson said: “Thanks for your query – we won’t be commenting on this issue.”

Also responding to our request for comment, a Chevron spokesperson said: “We don’t comment on security matters.”

Total has yet to respond.

Back to NDA, this is the second such threat in the space of two or so months, after the group in November 2017 said it would target Total’s giant Egina FPSO, among others.  Total’s Egina FPSO sailed away from South Korea and on its way to Nigeria. It is currently moored off Gabon.

Freshly built EGINA FPSO Sailing away from South Korea in October 2017. Photo by: Mr. Firdauzi, Egina FPSO Deputy Topside Manager within Total E&P Nigeria

The militant group on Wednesday explained why the initial threats had not materialized: “On the 3rd of November 2017 we promised to reactivate “operation red economy” but as usual some overzealous and over patriotic elders intervened and appealed as they have done twice before then for us to avail them some more time to attend to the demands of the Niger Delta as championed by the Niger Delta Avengers.”

“That we have not achieved any meaningful results despite the opportunities we have availed the Niger Delta elders means that they are either irresponsible or the Nigerian government is not sincere with them as it is their trade in stock.”

“Because of the above, we have resolved not to listen to the Niger Delta elders as we unravel our New year package to the failed Nigerian state this time around,” reads a statement signed by Maj.Gen Murdoch Agbinibo.

The militants said they want to control “our resources and directly use them to better our lot instead of been enslaved and made to beg before crumbs are released in a dress rehearsal-like manner to intervention agencies that are ineffective at addressing our challenges.”

“While 1 Billion Dollars from the excess crude account is been released to fight a Boko Haram in the North; successive government acts blind to the very bold array of challenges our region from which this wealth is generated is facing; as they (the Nigerian Government) derives pleasure in sending their unprofessional and weak military to invade our communities and subject our already sick and suffering people to more hardship and poverty,” the Niger Delta Avengers said.

The group has also slammed the recent release of 244 members of Boko Haram, who have “undergone rehabilitation.”

“Only a few days ago the Nigerian Army released 244 members of the murderous Boko Haram sect to Borno state government while thousands of innocent Niger Delta youths continue to suffer in various prisons across the country for no just cause.  It is on the above premise that we are demanding the immediate release of all Niger Deltans Activists and Freedom Fighters that are held captive by the Nigeria Armed Forces… Again, the Niger Delta Avengers wish Nigeria a doomed 2018; courtesy the skilled hands of our fierce and smooth operatives across the Niger Delta,” Maj. Gen. Murdoch Agbinibo wrote in the statement.

Gulf of Guinea attacks in 2017 (Image by Dryad Maritime)

Volatile region

The NDA did not provide any details on what exactly it plans to do with the targeted offshore installations, however, whether the NDA threats materialize or not, the Gulf of Guinea region is already a dangerous place to operate in.

According to Dryad Maritime’s security review of the region for 2017, 45 attacks by armed pirates on commercial shipping and oil industry support vessels were reported from the region last year.

Worth noting, no attacks in West African open-ocean were reported outside of the Nigerian EEZ.

In its report, Dryad in many of last year’s attacks, ships crew’s evaded abduction by locking themselves into their vessels citadels, as pirates boarded and looted their ships. Unfortunately, in 14 of the incidents, the heavily armed pirates abducted a total of 69 crew, Dryad added.

While the number of ships attacked (44) was lower than the 54 attacked during 2016, though 25 more crew were kidnapped in 2017 than in the previous year.

Dryad Maritime also expressed concern that the Nigerian navy is unable to effectively deter pirates or police the waters off the Niger Delta. In some cases, despite repeated daytime attacks, the pirates have been able to remain on board targeted vessels for several hours before the Nigerian Navy show a visible presence.

“This gives the armed gangs plenty of time to loot vessels, and attempt to kidnap crew and leave the scene with little fear of detention…Despite regular media statements by the Nigerian navy that it has taken control of the seas off the Niger Delta, the facts are that the pirates have little to fear of being captured by them.”

Offshore Energy Today Staff