This Day (Lagos)

21 October 2013

Nigeria: MEND Claims Responsibility for Niger Delta Oil Spills

Photo: AkwaIbom.com
A Nigerian oil refinery.

The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) has said it is responsible for oil spills in parts of the Niger Delta, stating that the incidents were part of operation 'Hurricane Exodus' it embarked months ago.

The movement said its efforts at sabotaging facilities in the oil sector had been inadvertently complemented by oil thieves in the region with the connivance of security operatives.

In a statement signed by its spokesperson, Jomo Gbomo, and received online yesterday, the group said its activities had seriously damaged the Trans Niger Pipeline (TNP) and other feeder pipelines in the region.

The statement read: "The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) regrets the collateral damage to the environment in Ogoni land and other communities in the Niger Delta caused by ravaging crude oil spills and gas leakages as a result of 'Hurricane Exodus'. This first plague of blood is a sacrifice for freedom we will all have to endure.

"Since our last update, 'Hurricane Exodus' continues to gather strength as it sweeps through the swamps and creeks in the Niger Delta leaving seriously damaged Trans Niger and Feeder pipe lines, harassed security operatives and scurrying oil workers in its wake.

"Our efforts at sabotaging the oil sector is been complemented inadvertently by industrialised oil theft, aided and abetted by the security forces in the region such as the Joint Task Force (JTF), Eastern Naval Command, the Marine Police, the State Security Service (SSS) and the Nigerian Maritime and Safety Administration Agency (NIMASA)." It accused top security chiefs of receiving payments from security operatives posted to the region and also top politicians and staff of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) of being involved in the racket.

It said: "As the Niger Delta is seen as a lucrative posting by personnel of the aforementioned agencies, financial returns are made on a monthly basis to the Service Chiefs, Inspector General of Police, Director General of the SSS and NIMASA as well as the Minister of Defence. Politicians at the highest level of government and some unscrupulous staff of the NNPC are also involved in the racket."

"Oil majors are been chased away, abandoning their onshore assets or selling them off. This is our honest advise to unsuspecting buyers in a Niger Delta where the government of President Goodluck Jonathan has refused to dialogue on the root issues, opting instead to delude itself, bribe a few miscreants and deceive the world that all is well because of misleading assurances and bad advice from a few selfish, greedy and myopic individuals."

It warned that offshore operations of oil companies were not safe from its operations and stated that it would strike more installations.

"Offshore operations are not a safe haven. MEND has visited Bonga before and we will do it again when the time is right," the statement said.

Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited had on October 10 declared a force majeure on its Bonny Light crude exports due to production deferment from the spills which were recorded on the 24-inch line of the TNP at B-Dere and Nonwa-Tai in Rivers State.

A statement by SPDC had said following the spills, production was switched to the 28-inch line of the TNP, which was also briefly shut down for repair following a fire at Patrick Waterside, Bodo and reopened on October 16.

A statement signed by SPDC spokesperson, Mr. Precious Okolobo, announcing the lifting of the force majeure said, "While the spill at B-Dere came from a hole drilled by unknown persons, it was confirmed that pipeline failure was responsible for the incident at Nonwa-Tai.

"About 2,200 barrels of oil were spilled, of which more than 1,500 barrels have since been recovered. Further remedial measures, clean-up and repairs are continuing."

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