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The Nigerian military has apprehended the mastermind of the Agip oil pipeline bombings that lost Italian Eni thousands of barrels of oil that have spilled into waterways and fishing grounds.
Prince Alvin Cockman Oygun (AKA Commander Abula) was apprehended by military authorities shortly after the launch of a string of attacks on the pipeline earlier this month, but the government of Nigeria withheld this information.
Eni is in charge of oil operations in Bayelsa State, and the attacks resulted in the loss of 16,000 barrels of oil equivalent daily.
The Agip pipeline bombings were the second major attack on the OPEC member’s installations since an arrest warrant was issued this month for former militant leader Government Ekpemupolo, AKA Tompolo.
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Ekpemupolo, formerly high-profile leaders of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), is wanted by Nigerian authorities for money laundering and the illegal diversion of more than $200 million.
Also this month, Nigeria’s state oil company was forced to shut down its Kaduna and Port Harcourt refineries following an attack on pipelines bringing crude to the plants.
The Niger Delta was previously home to an insurgency by local militants who wanted a greater share of the region’s oil wealth. A 2009 amnesty deal that saw the government provide the militants job training and monthly cash stipends is credited with quelling the violence.
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Following the amnesty, many former leaders enriched themselves through lucrative pipeline protection contracts under previous president Goodluck Jonathan. With a new president now at the helm in Nigeria, a massive anti-corruption campaign is hitting hard at these earlier relations, and retribution attacks are expected to continue.
The most recent attack is the fifth on an oil installation in the Niger Delta since the beginning of this year, sparking fears that the insurgency is being revived in earnest.
By Charles Kennedy of Oilprice.com
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Charles is a writer for Oilprice.com