Nigeria is gearing up for a new disruption to its oil production and demand recovery after mayhem spurred by weeks of nationwide protests against police brutality started spreading into its major oil producing states, London-based energy and commodities intelligence provider, S&P Global Platts said, quoting Nigeria-based sources.
Nigerians in their numbers began marching against the Federal Government to put a stopper to extra-judicial killings implemented by a unit of the police known as the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) this month.
The demonstrations spiralled into fierce clashes and attacks on public properties in a number of urban centres.
Much as the pockets of mayhem and clashes seen in different parts of Africa’s top oil producer are yet to upset its oil output, oil workers said tensions could fester in the restive Niger Delta region should government be slow in addressing the issue.
“To us in the industry, it is a matter of time that oil operations are disrupted if the situation remains unchecked and allowed to escalate,” an oil official said.
Oil production in Nigeria plunged to a three decade low of about 1.4 million barrels per day (bpd) in mid-2016 about the time of the last recession in Africa’s largest economy on the back of sweeping attacks on oil installations by Niger Delta militants.
The protests came at a difficult time for Nigeria which is still nursing wounds from a record oil crash in April together with the ravages of the pandemic outbreak.
On 22nd October, Ifeanyi Okowa, governor of Delta State, announced a 48-hour curfew due to aggravating violence by protesters.
The state hosts Forcados oil export terminal, the key Trans Forcados pipeline, many Shell and Chevron’s oilfields.
An alliance of one-time rebels in the Niger Delta, now known as the Reformed Niger Delta Avengers, released a statement on 20th October, threatening to re-launch attacks on oil installations in case the Nigerian government fail to meet the demands of protestors across the country.
“We may resume heavy destruction of major crude oil pipelines and their platforms, including the major gas distribution pipelines from Escravos-Warri-Kaduna,” the statement said.
The Niger Delta Avengers masterminded most of the attacks on the country’s oil infrastructure in 2016.
There is still a presidential amnesty programme in place for former Niger Delta militants to maintain peace in the region for socio-economic reasons.
The protests have been very huge in Lagos, which accounts for nearly 40 per cent of domestic oil demand.
Nigeria is one of the top consumers of road fuels in Africa, typically utilising about 1 million to 1.25 million metric tonnes of gasoline every month.
The country, with a capacity to produce almost 2.2 million bpd of crude and condensate, imports nearly all of its locally consumed gasoline on account of the poor performance of its four state-owned refineries.
The protests have died down after two days of aggravated violence that was sparked by attacks on peaceful protesters at Lekki. Most states including Lagos are now calm enough for the governments to partially lift the curfews. The youth groups behind the #EndSARS protests and activist coalitions have called for the protest to be taken online, all but eliminating chances of their recurrence and potential impact on oil production and demand.
#EndSARS remains unprecedented moment in Nigerian history. How can we ALL build on it in transforming Nigeria into a country that works for ALL of us and not only for a few of them?
Arbiterz will like to hear from you too. Send your opinion -300/400 words-to email@example.com & firstname.lastname@example.org. You MAY include a picture of yourself, which may be from the #EndSARS battleline where you are helping to push the old Nigeria into the abyss.