Posts Tagged ‘Nigeria’

Shell warns of safety risks at occupied Nigeria plant

August 21, 2017

AFP

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© AFP/File | Children paddle past an oil pipeline head near their home in the Andoni settlement on Bonny waterways, in Nigeria’s southern Rivers state on April 12, 2011
LAGOS (AFP) – Royal Dutch Shell has raised an alarm over the continuing siege at a Nigerian facility by protesters, saying they could be putting their safety at risk.

Hundreds of protesters from the Kula and Belema communities in Nigeria’s restless southern Rivers state have occupied the plant since August 11 to press their demands for jobs and better living conditions.

“The illegal occupation of Belema Flow Station and Gas Plant in Rivers State has safety implications both for the people at the facilities and nearby communities,” the company’s Nigerian subsidiary, Shell Petroleum Development Company, said in a statement on Sunday.

It said it was “deeply concerned that unauthorised persons, including women and children, have been observed in close proximity to equipment that processes crude oil and gas without the protection of safety clothing.”

Shell said the occupation “exposes people at the plant to higher safety risks as anything could trigger a spill or fire with potentially serious consequences.”

The company said it had not been able to gain access to the plant since the seizure, and called on the protesters to leave.

The protesters also want Shell to shift the operation of the plant to a local company.

“We want Shell to hand over the operations of the flow station to Belema Oil Company because it appreciates our challenges and needs,” community leader Godson Egbelekro told AFP.

The plant transports crude oil to the Bonny Light export terminal, which has a production capacity of 225,000 barrels per day.

In 1993, Shell was forced to quit operation in Ogoniland because of community unrest, but the company still runs a network of pipelines in the area.

Nigeria, Africa’s biggest oil producer with some two million barrels per day, relies on the sector for 90 percent of foreign exchange earnings and 70 percent of government revenue.

U.N. Relations With Nigeria ‘Intact’ After Dispute Over Army Raid

August 12, 2017

MAIDUGURI, Nigeria — The United Nations’ relationship with Nigeria is intact, a U.N. official said on Saturday, despite a military raid on a compound belonging to the international body in the conflict-ridden northeast.

“I am very pleased to report that our relationship of collaboration and trust is intact,” Peter Lundberg, the U.N. deputy humanitarian coordinator for Nigeria, said at a briefing in the northeastern city of Maiduguri.

Friday’s raid had threatened to undermine an already-rocky relationship between Nigeria’s military and the United Nations and other aid organizations.

The army said it was a search for members of Islamist insurgency Boko Haram in Maiduguri, the epicenter of the fight against the militants, in an area of the city that included the U.N. compound.

The army and United Nations still disagree over whether the compound was registered and designated as belonging to the U.N.

A worsening of relations between the U.N. and Nigeria could risk destabilizing efforts to deliver aid to almost seven million people affected by the eight-year conflict with Boko Haram, one of the biggest humanitarian crises in the world.

The United Nations on Friday had halted various operations around the northeast, but following reassurances from Nigeria those resumed on Saturday, said Lundberg.

“We are here in support of the government of Nigeria, the United Nations agencies and over 60 non-government organizations,” said Lundberg.

In a separate statement, Ibrahim Attahiru, a commander of Nigeria’s operations against Boko Haram, said the army was not trying to block the United Nations’ activities.

“We will continue to collaborate with the United Nations humanitarian agencies to achieve the goals of the counter-insurgency campaign and other developments to address the humanitarian crisis in the northeast region,” he said.

(Reporting by Ahmed Kingimi in Maiduguri; Writing by Paul Carsten; Editing by Andrew Bolton)

Protestors occupy Shell plant in Nigeria

August 12, 2017

AFP

© AFP/File | Although Shell was forced to quit oil production in the area in 1993, the company still runs a network of pipelines criss-crossing the area

WARRI (NIGERIA) (AFP) – Hundreds of protesters have occupied a Nigerian oil facility owned by Anglo-Dutch oil giant Shell, demanding that a local company take over its operations, a community leader said Saturday.

“We want Shell to hand over the operations of the flow station to Belema Oil Company because it appreciates our challenges and needs,” community leader Godson Egbelekro told AFP.

Protesters from the Kula and Belema community in Nigeria’s restive southern Rivers state said the community has suffered through decades of poverty and neglect.

At the same time they say the owners and workers of multinational oil firms operating in the area are living a life of affluence thanks to abundant oil and gas resources.

“We will be here for as long as it takes until Shell meets our demands,” youth leader Alfred Epedi said, adding that “over 800 protesters” were occupying the flow station.

Security guards at the facility did not try to disperse the crowd as it entered the flow station on Friday.

The station, operated by Shell subsidiary the Shell Petroleum Development Corporation of Nigeria Ltd (SPDC), feeds crude oil into its Bonny Light export terminal, which has a production capacity of 225,000 barrels per day of oil.

The flow station’s output remained slow on Saturday.

Company officials “have been engaging representatives of the community (in) talks but nothing tangible has come out from the said talks,” Epedi said.

In a statement, SPDC spokesman Joseph Obari denied the protesters’ allegations of neglect and said the company was working to resolve the situation.

The company “has spent several millions of naira on social investment projects and university scholarship programmes for students of the area,” Obari said.

“SPDC has informed the authorities of the illegal occupation and is working towards resuming safe operations,” he added.

Community unrest in Ogoniland, in Nigeria’s oil rich south, is not uncommon.

Although Shell was forced to quit oil production in the area in 1993, the company still runs a network of pipelines criss-crossing the area.

In July, SPDC had to shut down its Trans Niger pipeline because of a “leak” — the preferred euphemism in Nigeria for crude oil theft.

Nigeria is Africa’s biggest oil producer and exporter, accounting for some two million barrels per day. It relies on the sector for 90 percent of foreign exchange earnings and 70 percent of government revenue.

Nigeria: Hundreds of protesters storm crude oil flow station owned by Shell

August 11, 2017

AKUKU-TORU, Nigeria — Hundreds of Nigerian protesters stormed a crude oil flow station owned by Shell in the restive Niger Delta on Friday, demanding jobs and infrastructure development, a Reuters witness said.

The protesters complained they did not benefit from oil production in their area, a common refrain in the impoverished swampland that produces most of Nigeria’s oil. They also demanded an end to oil pollution in the area.

Soldiers and security guards did not disperse the crowd as they entered the Belema Flow Station in Rivers State, which feeds oil into Shell’s Bonny export terminal.

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The Agbada oil flow station, operated by Shell in Port Harcourt, Nigeria. Photographer George Osodi for Bloomberg

Shell had no immediate comment, and it was not immediately clear whether there was an impact on oil production.

While Bonny Light crude oil is currently under force majeure due to the closure of the Trans Niger Pipeline, exports continue via another export line.

(Reporting by Tife Owolabi; additional reporting by Libby George; Writing by Ulf Laessing; Editing by Susan Fenton)

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Shell operated Bonny oil terminal

Image result for Shell's Bonny export terminal, Nigeria, photos

Saudis contributed to July boost in oil output: OPEC

August 10, 2017

AFP

© AFP/File | OPEC increased output in July despite pledges to restrain production

PARIS (AFP) – Crude oil production by OPEC members increased slightly in July, including Saudi Arabia, which had championed efforts by the oil cartel and allies to extend an output freeze.Output from the 14 cartel members hit 32.87 million barrels per day (mbd) in July according to secondary sources, OPEC said in its monthly report on the oil market, up from 32.69 mbd in June.

“Crude oil output increased mostly in Libya, Nigeria, and Saudi Arabia,” said the report.

OPEC and a number of other producers including Russia agreed in May to extend production cuts, originally agreed last year, into 2018 to ease a global supply glut and support the price of crude.

But oil prices haven’t been able to push up durably from around $50 a barrel as some exporters have produced more oil than agreed under the November deal, raising doubts about OPEC’s ability to enforce it.

While both Libya and Nigeria were exempted from the production cuts, Saudi Arabia was the motor behind the effort in May to extend the limits and is OPEC’s largest producer by far.

Its output increased to 10.067 mbd in July from 10.035 mbd in June, according to secondary sources, which would put it just above its agreed output ceiling.

Saudi Arabia did not supply production figures directly to OPEC.

Technical experts from OPEC and its allies met in Abu Dhabi this week and the cartel said after the talks that they “remain steadfast in their commitment to fulfil” the November deal.

Decisions at the meeting, attended by Russia and Saudi Arabia, will “help facilitate full conformity” with production cuts, it said.

Last month, OPEC said there was “room for improvement” in implementing the deal and called on countries that signed the deal to “promptly reach full conformity”.

OPEC increased slightly its forecast for growth in global oil demand to an increase of 1.37 mbd this year, with overall demand at 96.49 mbd. It also rose its forecast for demand growth in 2018 to 1.28 mbd, with demand hitting 97.77 mbd.

US approves sale of war planes to Nigeria to fight Boko Haram

August 4, 2017

AFP

© AFP | A girl walking through the Rann internally displaced persons camp in northeastern Nigeria after the January 2017 bombing by the Nigerian military that killed 112 civilians
WASHINGTON (AFP) – The State Department has approved the sale of US warplanes to Nigeria to aid its fight against Boko Haram militants, ending a suspension of weapons sales that followed a deadly Nigerian military strike on a refugee camp.The State Department informed Congress late Wednesday it had approved the $593 million sale of 12 Super Tucano A-29 ground attack aircraft, a deal that includes supplying the Nigerian armed forces with ammunition, training and aircraft maintenance, a US official said.

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Super Tucano A-29

The US Air Force last year supplied such aircraft — bought from Brazilian plane manufacturer Embraer — to the Afghan military to help it fight the Taliban.

“These aircraft offer improved targeting capabilities, allowing Nigeria to more effectively lead the fight against Boko Haram and the ISIS West Africa branch, while also potentially reducing risks of collateral damage and civilian casualties,” said the US official, who asked not to be identified.

The training that the US intends to provide to Nigerian pilots “would help build the skills and procedures to effectively and responsibly operate the aircraft in accordance with international human rights law and the law of armed conflict,” the official said.

The sale was initially unveiled in May 2016 but the Democratic administration of former president Barack Obama froze the deal just before handing over the reins of power to President Donald Trump in January, after the Nigerian military accidentally bombed a camp for people displaced by the conflict in the northeast, killing 112 civilians.

Congress now has 30 days to decide on whether to approve the deal. If no opposition is voiced, the administration can go ahead with the arms sale.

Boko Haram, which has allied itself with the Islamic State, has been leading a bloody jihadist insurrection in Nigeria since 2009 that has left at least 20,000 people dead and forced another 2.6 million people from their homes.

Thousands of women and girls have been kidnapped and forced into marriage with Islamist insurgents or made to carry out suicide bomb attacks.

Last week, the military was ordered to strengthen its response to Boko Haram after 69 people were killed in an ambush.

Boko Haram wing tied to IS marks resurgence by kidnapping oil workers

August 2, 2017

AUGUST 2, 2017 / 12:56 PM

By Alexis Akwagyiram
Reuters

LAGOS (Reuters) – A Boko Haram faction with ties to Islamic State and responsible for the kidnapping of a Nigerian oil prospecting team which led to at least 37 people being killed has become a deadly force capable of carrying out highly-organized attacks.

Nigerian government forces have focused on crushing the best-known branch of the Islamist militant group whose leader Abubakar Shekau has led an eight-year insurgency to create an Islamic state in the northeast which has killed thousands.

But while Nigeria has claimed the capture of Shekau’s main base in the Sambisa forest and freed many of more than 200 schoolgirls abducted by his faction in April 2014 in Chibok town, a rival wing has developed the capacity to carry out attacks on a larger scale.

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At least 37 people, including members of the team, rescuers from the military and vigilantes, died last week when security forces tried to free those being held by the Boko Haram faction led by Abu Musab al-Barnawi who is trying to thwart government efforts to explore for oil in the Lake Chad Basin.

That wing is “much better organized than the Shekau faction” which typically stages suicide bombings in mosques and markets, said Malte Liewerscheidt, senior Africa analyst at Verisk Maplecroft consultancy group.

“The Shekau faction does not seem to have a clear ideology or any strategy,” said Liewerscheidt. That makes it easier for al-Barnawi’s faction to recruit whereas Shekau’s faction was not trusted by locals, he said.

And despite the assessment that it is less organized, Shekau’s faction has stepped up suicide bombings in the last few weeks, killing at least 113 people since June 1, according to a Reuters tally.

The combined attacks by the two wings marks a resurgence by the group, months after President Muhammadu Buhari’s announcement in December 2016 that Boko Haram’s stronghold in the Sambisa forest had been captured.

Boko Haram, which has killed more than 20,000 people and forced some 2.7 million to flee their homes since 2009, split last year.

The division led by Shekau, Boko Haram’s most recognizable figure known for videos taunting Nigerian authorities circulated on social media, operates in the northeastern Sambisa forest and usually deploys girls as suicide bombers.

Is Named Al-Barnawi

But, since Islamic State named al-Barnawi as Boko Haram’s leader in August 2016 after the west African militants pledged allegiance the previous year, his Lake Chad-based faction has been moving fighters and ammunition across porous borders in northeast Nigeria, Cameroon, Niger and Chad.

Boko Haram militants (in camouflage) embrace and shake hands with Boko Haram prisoners, released in exchange for a group of 82 Chibok girls, who were held captive for three years by Islamist militants, near Kumshe, Nigeria, May 6, 2017.Zanah Mustapha/File Photo

The head of a private Nigerian security firm, who did not want to be named, said al-Barnawi’s IS affiliation meant his wing benefits from sub-Saharan trade routes to ship weapons from lawless Libya where Islamic State is active.

His group has been planning a larger scale attack for some time, said a Western diplomat, speaking anonymously.

Boko Haram launched two attacks in June – the most prolonged raid on the northeastern city of Maiduguri in 18 months and an attack on a police convoy – which were more ambitious than routine suicide attacks. Shekau’s faction is widely believed to have been behind the two attacks.

Buhari has repeatedly said the insurgents are on the verge of defeat since the army, helped by neighboring countries, wrested back most of the land in Nigeria’s northeast, an area the size of Belgium, that the militants took in early 2015.

Nigerian military vehicle

Nigeria’s military has been battling the insurgents since 2009. AFP photo

A military vehicle drives into the Emir’s palace in Bama, which was the former headquarters of the Boko Haram militants in Bama, Borno, Nigeria, August 31, 2016.Afolabi Sotunde/File Photo

But security experts say the territorial gain has given a false impression because much of the liberated areas beyond main roads patrolled by the army remain no-go areas where displaced people cannot return to farm.

“While insurgent-held territory has been recaptured, this was conflated with a military victory,” said Ryan Cummings, director of Africa-focused risk management company Signal Risk.

“All that has happened is that Boko Haram has reverted to the asymmetrical armed campaign it had waged for the seven out of the eight years of its armed campaign against the Nigerian state,” he said.

The military has been forced to concentrate forces around Maiduguri, capital of the insurgency’s birthplace, Borno state, where Shekau’s faction has stepped up suicide bombings, which now occur on a near-daily basis.

Ransom Money

A security analyst said Shekau’s wing used ransom money paid by the government to free Chibok girls to buy weapons and recruit fighters — the attacks stepped up after a deal was brokered in May to free 82 of them.

The return of experienced commanders freed in exchange for the girls had also bolstered his group, said the analyst, who asked not to be named. “The fact that they were held for some time suggests they were serious players,” he said.

Acting-President Yemi Osinbajo, in power while Buhari takes medical leave in Britain for an unspecified ailment, responded to the oil team’s abduction and frequent attacks by ordering military chiefs to “scale up their efforts” in Borno, according to a statement.

The military said armed forces chiefs relocated to Maiduguri on August 1. “This move and action are expected to give impetus to the military effort,” it said, without elaborating. The theater army commander is already based in the city.

Additional reporting by Paul Carsten in Abuja; Editing by Ulf Laessing and Peter Millership

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New Boko Haram Leader, Al-Barnawi Is The Son Of Executed Founder Of Boko Haram

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Strong indication emerged yesterday that the new Boko Haram leader, Abu Musab al -Barnawi, is the son of the group’s founder, Mohammed Yusuf, according to a Boko Haram insider.

The source told Cable Network news (CNN) that al-Barnawi, who is about 25 years – old was the second son of Yusuf, who founded the group in 2002 and was captured and executed after a clash with Nigerian security forces in 2009.

The insider said there was a split in the ranks of the Boko Haram terror group three months ago, which led to Barnawi, known as Habib Yusuf within the group, to leave the Sambisa forest where the sect are believed to be hiding out.

He re-emerged this week after he was introduced as the new leader of the terrorist sect in an interview in the ISIS’ magazine al -Naba. Boko Haram has long had links with ISIS, pledging allegiance to the group in March.

Similarly, al – Barnawi in an interview published by an online news portal, The Japan Times, had revealed that his major targets, is to bomb churches and kill Christians, while ending attacks on mosques and markets used by ordinary Muslims.

In the interview, al-Barnawi said under his leadership, the militants would work to seize back territory.

Even though al-Barnawi is now supposedly the leader of Boko Haram , the source told CNN that the group’s long – time leader, Abubakar Shekau, still has the larger number of followers in the Sambisa forest and crucially has control of the abducted Chibok schoolgirls.

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Abubakar Shekau

The schoolgirls are seen as a powerful bargaining chip for the terrorist group, whose base has been significantly weakened.

Western intelligence sources close to negotiations believe, however, that the defection of manpower and erosion of support leaves Shekau more exposed and could possibly lead to a breakthrough in the search for the abducted girls.

The Boko Haram source told CNN that al- Barnawi was Boko Haram’s head of armoury before he fell out with Shekau and left with some followers.

The source said: “ Shekau is seen as erratic and disorganised and Habib didn’t agree with a lot of his decisions anymore.”

http://www.naijaloaded.com.ng/others/new-boko-haram-leader-al-barnawi-son-executed-founder-boko-haram-photo

Boko Haram Extremists Storm Nigeria Village, Killing 7

August 2, 2017

YOLA, Nigeria — Authorities in northern Nigeria say Boko Haram extremists have killed at least seven people in an attack on a village where they burned homes and shops to the ground.

Fleeing residents said the fighters stormed Mildu village late Tuesday.

The community is not far from the Sambisa Forest, which was a Boko Haram stronghold before Nigeria’s military announced it had regained control of the area late last year.

Muhammad Yusuf, the chairman of a local council, says seven people have been confirmed dead though the figure could rise.

Boko Haram’s insurgency in an attempt to enforce strict Islamic Shariah rule has killed more than 20,000 and displaced about 3 million people, mostly women and children, since 2009.

14 Dead After Suicide Bombing in Northeastern Nigeria — Bombing blamed on the Boko Haram extremist group

July 29, 2017

MAIDUGURI, Nigeria — Authorities in northeastern Nigeria say at least 14 people are dead after a suicide bombing blamed on the Boko Haram extremist group.

Bello Dambatta, head of the rapid response team for the State Emergency Agency SEMA, said a female suicide bomber sneaked into a building late Friday in Dikwa, east of the city of Maiduguri, and detonated her explosives.

Volunteers said at least two dozen others were wounded and had to wait until Saturday morning to be evacuated because of safety concerns and the lack of phone service.

Meanwhile, three geologists abducted in an ambush attack Tuesday by Boko Haram insurgents have appeared in new video calling on the Nigerian government to negotiate the workers’ release. Authorities say at least 48 people were killed in that attack near Lake Chad.

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‘More than 40’ killed in battle with Boko Haram in Nigeria

BBC News

Nigerian military vehicle
Nigeria’s military has been battling the insurgents since 2009. AFP photo

More than 40 people have died in north-east Nigeria during an attempt to free people who had been ambushed in a convoy by militant Islamist group Boko Haram, sources have told the BBC.

At least five members of an oil exploration team were killed and soldiers also died.

Army chiefs have now been ordered to relocate to the affected area.

The high number of casualties will be a blow for the government, which insists the insurgency is all but defeated.

At least 20,000 people have been killed and thousands more abducted since Boko Haram launched its insurgency in the city of Maiduguri, north-east Nigeria, in 2009.

In the most notorious abduction case, it seized 276 girls from a boarding school in the north-eastern town of Chibok in 2014.

It has since freed more than 100 of the girls, in exchange for the release of its fighters detained by Nigeria’s security forces.

‘Death toll mounting’

Details of what happened on Tuesday remain unclear, with initial reports from the army suggesting the abducted geologists and surveyors, who worked at the University of Maiduguri, had been rescued.

On Tuesday, the army said the bodies of nine Nigerian soldiers and a civilian had been recovered.

But now the university has said at least five members of staff, including two academics and a driver, were killed when the heavily armed convoy made its way back to Maiduguri, in north-east Nigeria.

Several others remain missing.

“We got the impression our staff on the team were rescued because that was what the military spokesman said yesterday,” Maiduguri University spokesman Dani Mamman said, quoted by AFP.

“But we were shocked when we were given four dead bodies. This means it wasn’t a rescue. We still have other staff that are yet to be accounted for.”

Sources told the BBC that more than 40 people, most of them soldiers and volunteers from a vigilante group, had been killed in total – although other sources suggest the number killed may rise further still.

“The death toll keeps mounting,” a source told AFP, adding: “More bodies are coming in.”

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-40740323

Nigeria: Kidnapped oil workers speak on Boko Haram video

July 29, 2017

AFP

© AFP/File | Nigerian soldiers prepare to head off in search of Boko Haram militants outside Maiduguri, in northeast Nigeria, in March 2016

LAGOS (AFP) – Boko Haram Islamists have published a video showing three kidnapped members of an oil exploration team, after an ambush in northeast Nigeria earlier this week that killed at least 50.In the four-minute video, the trio identify themselves as being from the University of Maiduguri and call on the government to meet the jihadists’ demands in exchange for their safe return.

The men were part of a Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) team on a mission to find commercial quantities of oil in the Lake Chad basin when they came under attack on Tuesday.

“I want to call on the acting president professor Yemi Osinbajo to come to our rescue to meet the demand,” one of the men said on the video, which he said was shot on Friday.

He attributed the attack to the Islamic State-supported Boko Haram faction headed by Abu Mus’ab Al-Barnawi, which has promised to hit military and government targets.

“They have promised us that if their demands are met they will release us immediately to go back to the work we were caught doing,” the man added.

There was no indication of where the video was shot but the convoy came under attack near Magumeri, some 50 kilometres (31 miles) by road northwest of Maiduguri.

Most of the victims were soldiers and civilian militia members providing security.

University of Maiduguri spokesman Danjuma Gambo confirmed the three kidnapped men were from the institution, whose campus in the city has been repeatedly targeted by Boko Haram suicide bombers in recent months.

“They are our staff but one more is yet to be accounted for,” he told AFP.

Experts said the attack — Boko Haram’s bloodiest this year — underscored the persistent threat posed by the jihadists, despite government claims the group is a spent force.

Related:

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Goodluck Jonathan

 (Has links to several previous articles)

Remember this from April 2014? From left: Michelle Obama, Cara Delevingne and Malala Yousafzai call for the release of the girls during the “hashtag campaign”

A member of

A member of “Bring Back Our Girls” movement carries placard to press for the release of the missing Chibok schoolgirls in Lagos, on April 14, 2016 ©PIUS UTOMI EKPEI (AFP/File)

Parents of abducted Chibok girls cry as police denied them access to see President Muhammadu Buhari during a rally in Abuja

Parents of abducted Chibok girls cry as police denied them access to see President Muhammadu Buhari during a rally in Abuja, Nigeria August 25, 2016. REUTERS/Afolabi Sotunde