Niger Delta insurgency back on?

Gunmen attacked two ships off the coast of Nigeria's oil-rich southern delta Aug. 4, killing two naval troops protecting the vessels and seizing four foreign workers before fleeing.  Six naval troops were aboard the vessel, which belongs to the Sea Truck oil services company. The Nigerian navy has dispatched boats and a helicopter to the area. Sporadic attacks on oil infrastructure in the Niger Delta have continued despite a 2009 amnesty for militant groups. (AP, Radio Netherlands, Aug. 4)

Italian oil giant ENI said last month that "an act of sabotage" caused a spill at one of its pipelines in Nigeria's Bayelsa state, as local leaders condemned the company for not reacting swiftly. "Due to an act of sabotage yesterday night, there has been a spill along the flowline between Nembe and Obama," an ENI spokesman told AFP in Rome July 9. The area, known locally as Obama fields, was renamed to honour US President Barack Obama. The spill has impacted some waterways and farms, authorities from the affected Nembe kingdom said in a statement, which criticized "multi-nationals" for using "delay tactics" after spills. "They allow the oil spill to spread to rivers and mangrove forests before coming for inspection and clean-ups," said the statement from Nengi James, chair of the oil and gas Committee of Nembe Kingdom. (AFP, July 9) A Chevron oil spill befouled the region in January.

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) on Aug. 1 welcomed a new project initiated by the government of Nigeria to resolve the oil contamination affecting the people of Ogoniland. The Nigeria decision came a year after UNEP first released a report finding that the 50-year oil operation in the region led to contamination of drinking water and created fire hazards through oil leaks—problems likely to spread if not addressed immediately. Nigerian Minister of Petroleum Resources Diezani Alison-Madueke announced last month that a Hydrocarbon Pollution Restoration Project has been established to comply with UNEP's recommendation in the report. (Jurist, Aug. 2)

See our last posts on Nigeria and the petro-resistance.