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Niger Delta militants blow up Chevron’s Okan oil platform
Suspected militants in the Niger Delta on Thursday blew up a major valve platform belonging to Chevron Nigeria Limited around Escravos in Warri, Delta State.
A group known as Niger Delta Avengers has claimed responsibility for the explosion.
In a statement signed by its spokesman, Col. Madoch Agbinibo, the NDA warned the Federal Government that the deployment of soldiers in the oil bearing region would not stop it from crippling the Nigerian economy.
The group threatened to take its attacks beyond Delta to Lagos State and Abuja, even as it warned international oil companies that the Nigerian military would not be able to protect their facilities.
The Chevron’s General Manager, Policies, Government and Public Affairs, Deji Haastrup, said the facility had been shut following the damage.
He stated, “The facility that was bridged is the Okan offshore platform. The valve is offshore our Escravos terminal area. We have shut in the facility and we have mobilised to contain the potential spill that results from incidents such as this. All of our export commitments are taken care of. It will not affect our commitments to export crude.
“It means that we cannot produce from that particular facility until it has been accessed and repaired. But we will continue to produce from our other assets.”
Asked about the volume of production shut in as a result of the damage, he said, “We are still assessing that.”
On the implication for the country, Haastrup said, “This is a very difficult time for the country because it needs oil, the revenue it can get from oil production. Incidents such as this have the potential to impact that. We do hope that it does not seriously affect the country.”
The naval spokesman, Commodore Chris Ezekobe, stated the incident had adversely affected the nation’s crude oil and gas production capacity.
Ezekobe recalled that the incident was similar to an attack on Chevron’s terminal in 2009, adding that Thursday’s explosion occurred about 40 nautical miles from the Escravos terminal.
“Production has been cut short both in gas and crude oil. Gas production has reduced to 100 million cubic feet. We don’t know who is responsible. The NDA can only be speculative,” he added.
The Acting Director, Defence Information, Brig. Gen. Rabe Abubakar, confirmed that suspected militants attacked the Chevron facility on Wednesday night.
“Actually, it is true. It is unfortunate that this type of thing happened. It happened far into the high sea; so, efforts are being intensified to track the perpetrators,” he said.
However, Ezekobe explained that the attack took place some four miles off the Escravos River.
According to him, the platform that was partially damaged was a collection point for crude oil and gas to the main Chevron facility in the area.
Ezekobe said that the Forward Operation Base of the Navy had already dispatched vessels to protect oil platforms in the area and the facility of the Shell Petroleum Development Company that was earlier blown up by the NDA in the Forcados area of Delta State.
He said, “Well, it is true, the incident happened four nautical miles off the Escravos Bar. The platform was partly damaged, it is a collection point for crude oil and gas to the main facility in the area, so it has affected production.
“Our Forward Operation Base in the area has sent vessels to protect the oil facilities in the area and the one that was attacked at the Forcados.”
An energy expert and Technical Director, Drilling Services, Template Design Limited, Mr. Bala Zakka, described the damage of the platform as a huge sabotage of the nation’s economy and reputation in the international community.
He said, “Okan is a field that has many wells; the platform is a structure used to gather all the crude oil coming from the wells – it is the collection point. The damage is going to have a major effect because Okan is a very big field; it is a major and prolific field within Chevron concession. So, the destruction of the valve on the Okan platform is a major economic sabotage.
“Now that the platform has been shut, it will affect production and export because there are so many wells in the Okan field with different production volumes. It is a huge production that has been cut off. It is a major disruption not only to Chevron, but also Nigeria.”
Source - PUNCH
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