| LAGOS/YENAGOA, Nigeria
LAGOS/YENAGOA, Nigeria Feb 28Nigeria wants
Royal Dutch Shell to reopen a major export pipeline in the Niger
Delta but the oil major wants better protection first to avoid
having it blown up yet again, officials and industry sources
Militants fighting for a share of oil revenues have attacked
the Trans Forcados Pipeline, the primary line feeding oil to the
400,000 barrel per day (bpd) Forcados export terminal, several
times in the past 12 months.
A more sophisticated strike one year ago used divers to blow
up a hard-to-fix section some six metres under water, forcing
Shell to fly in expensive specialist underwater engineers and
spend some six months on repairs.
Militants attacked again shortly after it reopened, meaning
Shell has spent all but about three weeks of the past year
repairing the shut-down pipeline.
The Delta state government, whose revenues are linked to
volumes of oil in the pipeline passing through its territory,
has been asking Shell when it will resume pumping, promising
"We are concerned (about the closure)," said Charles Ehiedu
Aniagwu, spokesman for the Delta government. "We are talking to
them (Shell) and people for a lasting peace."
Local officials have set up a committee to improve security
by talking to oil firms and communities where militants often
hide in the southern swampland.
But he said the federal government needed to help because
the army and police protecting pipelines and other oil
facilities report to Abuja.
"We also expect the federal government to do its part in
ensuring a smooth working of (International Oil Companies)
IOCs," he said.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, standing in for President
Muhammadu Buhari who is on extended sick leave in London, has
been meeting community leaders who act as proxies for militant
He has been promising more development to appease widespread
anger among residents over poverty in the Niger Delta, which
provides most of Nigeria's oil.
Shell declined to comment.
An industry source said repair works at the Forcados
pipeline had been progressing well, but the main issue was what
additional security measures Nigeria could provide to prevent a
Like other producers, Shell has been monitoring pipelines by
helicopter, passing on information to authorities, industry
sources said. But the military, which is often accused of graft,
has not always been quick to respond.
Experts said the militants must have had insider knowledge
to blow up pipelines at spots that are difficult to repair.
Cogent Ojobor, a local leader of the Nigeria Union of
Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG), said there would be
no pipeline security until the government brokered an agreement
to pacify the region.
"Caution is the instrument needed in times of security
concerns," he said.
(Additional reporting by Libby George; Editing by Ruth