The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has been forced to close down operations at the Port Harcourt and Kaduna refineries over alleged sabotage activities by restive youths in the Niger Delta region.
The Street Reporters learnt that the operational shutdown was as a result of inability of the refineries to access crude oil supply.
This followed a resurgent attacks on oil facilities in the region by the Niger Delta militants on Thursday, when restive youths launched fresh attacks in Delta State, blowing up the Escravos-Warri-Abuja-Lagos pipelines.
The militants had on Friday also blew up the Chevron Nigeria Limited’s Utunan-Makaraba crude oil pipeline before proceeding to bomb the Olero gas pipeline on Saturday.
The resumed attacks on oil installations in the region are suspected to be aimed at crippling the nation’s crude oil production.
An ex-militant, Government Ekpemupolo, who was a leader of the Movement for the Emancipation of Niger Delta (MEND) was recently declared wanted by the President Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government.
Nigeria’s minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola (SAN) had on Tuesday said the country was losing about $2.3 million (2.1 million euros) a day to attacks on gas facilities and lost electricity production.
The military had launched a counter attack on the militants, saying it would no longer tolerate the sabotage and blamed it on “criminal elements who are bent on destroying the nation’s strategic assets”.
Supporters of the former militant popularly known as “Tompolo”, were alleged to have been behind the renewed series of strikes on pipelines in the region.
A court in Lagos last Thursday ordered his arrest on allegation of theft and money laundering totalling over $175 million (161 million euros).
Despite being Africa’s number one oil producer, Nigeria has relied on imports of petroleum products because of a lack of domestic refining capacity, making fuel shortages commonplace in recent times.
According to the NNPC, in the statement that before the closure, Port Harcourt refinery was processing more than 4.1 million litres of petrol per day while Kaduna was producing about 1.3 million litres.
Warri was “still on stream” and producing just over 1.4 million litres of petrol daily, it added.
“In response to the unexpected setback, we have activated comprehensive remedial measures to sustain the prevailing stability in the supply and distribution of petroleum products across the country,” NNPC said.
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