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Shell Evacuates Oil Personnel After Chevron Platform Bombing

Niger Delta Avengers

Shell has evacuated nearly 100 essential oil personnel from a major production facility in the Niger Delta, following a series of attacks from a newly formed militant group that has vowed to renew the fight abandoned after a 2009 amnesty deal.

Some 98 Shell personnel were airlifted from the Shell-operated Eja Oml 79 oil production facility in the Niger Delta over the weekend, bringing into question the facility’s 90,000 barrel-per-day production capacity. The facility is run by Shell’s Nigerian subsidiary, SPDC (Shell Petroleum Development Corporation).

The evacuations come after militants of the Niger Delta Avengers attacked an offline oil platform in the Okan field facility run by Chevron late Wednesday.

"Approximately 35,000 barrels per day (bpd) of Chevron's net crude oil production in Nigeria are impacted," company spokeswoman Isabel Ordonez said in a statement late Friday.

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Late on Thursday, attackers also blew up the oil pipeline that supplies crude to Warri and Kaduna refineries, crippling Nigeria’s ability to refine some four million gallons of gasoline per day.

The latest attack on Thursday night also targeted an oil flow station feeding the Chevron Tank-farm in Warri South-West Government Area, Delta State. A gas line feeding Lagos and Abuja power plants was said to have been hit in what appears to be a well-coordinated renewed attack on the oil facilities in the Niger Delta.

There are fears that these attacks herald a revival of Niger Delta militancy targeting oil facilities and installations.

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Nigerian media quoted militants as vowing to “cripple oil and gas supply to the country as long as government remains recalcitrant to their demands."

Niger Delta militancy largely halted after a 2009 amnesty deal, which essentially allowed militants to join in the oil corruption game for their own personal game, thereby putting an end to military and simply redirecting it into corruption. With a new government now in place, however, and a tough anti-corruption drive under way, militancy is again surfacing.

Shell’s staff evacuation comes days after the Nigerian government sued the Anglo-Dutch company’s subsidiary over a 2011 Bonga region oil spill. The authorities are seeking the equivalent of $6.5 billion in compensation for over 285,000 people from 350 communities and satellite villages affected by the Bonga crude oil spill.

By James Burgess of Oilprice.com

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