Despite the Rivers State governor’s incessant pleas to rethink their decision, Oil companies have deciced to leave due to heightened insecurity and a threat by the militant Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) to declare a bloody assault on the state’s oil and gas industry.
Doing business has become unbearable following the skyrocketing of costs to hire expatraite workers as well as a systematic refusal of experts to move to the area, owing to the deplorable level of insecurity. According to an official, they have agreed to halt the placement of expatriates in the region until they are sure that the insecurity has been brought under control.
In a move to ensure security for oil and gas operators, Governor Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State, Monday, revealed that hostage taking was on its way to becoming a capital offence, punishable by death. Militants have, however, according to intelligence reports, decided to respond by going “bloody”. Investigations have also revealed that some of the brains behind the abductions connive with some traditional rulers to share ransom fees paid by oil companies. Militants have in most cases warned companies not to reveal that they pay to get their abducted workers freed, threatening a bloody confrontation should they disobey.
The increasing attacks that have rocked the oil producing state since 2006, affecting production and causing long delays in deliveries, led the oil companies to declare a force majeure last Friday. In a statement to the press, Shell spokesman in Nigeria, Precious Okolobo, indicated that “SPDC (Shell Petroleum Development Company) has declared force majeure on loadings at Bonny terminal with effect from 18:00 hours on February 10”. The move is expected to cause delays in deliveries in the months ahead.
A little over a week ago, the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN), threatened to shut down crude oil exports from river Sates and threatened a strike insisting that that until measures are taken and issues addressed, there will be no oil production from River state which is the number one oil producing state in the country.
Nigeria has already lost some of its crude oil exports to militancy in the Niger Delta region and currently exports only 1.8 million barrels of crude oil per day. This is some 400,000 barrels below the projected 2.2 million barrels of crude that ought to have been exported, depicting a reduction in Nigeria’s revenue for the fiscal year.