Incessant attacks by Niger Delta militants on oil and gas pipelines in Delta State, has forced the Government to shutdown the Warri and Kaduna refineries.
It will be recalled that the attacks on the oil facilities took place, a few hours after an Abuja High Court ordered the arrest of a former Niger-Delta militant leader, Government Ekpemupolo alias Tompolo.
The destroyed pipelines belong to the Nigeria Gas Company and Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) – both government-controlled parastatals – and the subsidiary of US multinational Chevron.
The refineries which had been inoperative for years were recently revived, but operating far below installed capacities.
Nigeria has been keen to reduce dependence on imported products of refined crude.
The 125,000 barrels-per-day (bpd) Warri refinery resumed production in November 2015, while the 110,000 bpd Kaduna refinery began operations in December.
Nigeria has two other refineries in Part Harcourt, bringing the total to four.
Warrant of arrest
The spokesman for NNPC, Mr Ohi Alegbe, confirmed the closure of the refineries and explained that the attacks by militants shut down two pipelines conveying crude oil to the refineries.
“We have shut down flows for now, the military are on top of the matter,” he said.
The pipeline attacks which lasted for three days were carried out by gunmen believed to be supporters of Tompolo.
He is wanted by the country’s anti-corruption watchdog, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), in a $300 million fraud case.
The Abuja High Court had issued a warrant of arrest on him after he failed to report to the Commission.
Military authorities have deployed special forces in the Delta region to protect oil facilities.
Area commander Major-General Alani Okunola said they were closing in on the militants that blew up the oil and gas pipelines.
President Muhammadu Buhari has warned that government would tackle resurgent militancy, oil theft and vandalism of oil pipelines and other forms of insecurity in the Niger Delta if bombings of oil facilities continue.