A sub-sea pipeline in the Niger-Delta has been attacked by militants which could threaten Nigeria’s crude oil output.
According to Reuters, the attack was branded as sophisticated, with diplomats and security experts saying that the attack showed a level of skill and inside intelligence rarely seen since the 2004-2009 insurgency, which at its height halved Nigeria’s oil output of around 2 millions barrels a day.
“This was an attack that required knowledge of the area and sophisticated equipment,” said a Western security source, asking not to be named. “There were underwater attacks before but none recently. The oil firms are really worried there will be more.”
This underwater pipeline attack is expected to cut Nigeria’s crude oil output by as much as 15%, which poses a significant problem for the President Buhari led administration, who are grappling to cope with the reduction in oil revenues due to falling oil prices.
The swampland’s oil provides 70 percent of state income but, like much of the rest of Nigeria, the region has never seen much development. Its roads are pot-holed and villages polluted from oil spills.
The strike came a month after authorities issued an arrest warrant for former militant leader Government Ekpemupolo, better known as Tompolo. Earlier in January, a gas pipeline in Warri South-West Local Government Area, Delta State conveying gas from Escravos–Warri-Lagos-Abuja, was blown up by suspected Ex-Militants.
This latest strike may not be totally unconnected to the former militant leader, Government Ekpemupolo, popularly known as Tompolo, barely a month after the government issued a warrant for his arrest. A security official said Tompolo’s men were probably behind the sub-sea attack, while activists say it could have been the work of other ex-rebels frustrated about the region’s poverty.
As at press time, no group has claimed responsibility for this attack.