As part of an operation code-named ‘Exercise Crocodile Smile’, the Army raided on Wednesday illegal makeshift refineries in the southern states Rivers and Bayelsa. Militants in the Nigerian swamps steal crude oil and refine it in illegal refineries. Various militant groups also attacked oil infrastructure in the Niger Delta.
Nigeria’s Army, who has been trying to stop the insurgents’ attacks, scored success in fighting militants earlier this week. The Army captured Isaac Romeo, the alleged kingpin of the Niger Delta Avengers (NDA), the militant group that had claimed most of the sabotages on oil facilities in recent months that have dragged Nigeria’s oil output down by some 700,000 barrels per day to 1.56 million bpd.
NDA halted hostilities in late August, which offered some glimmer of hope of recovering some of the production taken offline. However, other militant groups continue to disrupt oil operations. Just a day after the NDA had said it stopped hostilities, a new militant group attacked a pipeline operated by the state-run Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC).
Observers were right to be skeptical about the success of a complete ceasefire. The NDA is just one of the militant groups operating in the Niger Delta, and a ceasefire with only the NDA does not guarantee a complete cessation of attacks, they had said.
On the bright side for Nigerian production, Shell lifted on Tuesday its force majeure on Bonny Light crude exports. The Nembe Creek Trunk Line was repaired and reopened, allowing Shell to resume exports of its oil, nearly a month after declaring force majeure. Nembe Creek is one of a handful of key pipelines that helps Nigeria brings its oil to the coast for export. The cause of the August outage was not reported on – the pipeline’s operator, Aiteo, said it was from a leak but did not disclose the cause.