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Maritime Information Warfare Conference 2019 -London -November 18-19

November 18th 2019
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CYPnaval Conference - October 2nd - Cyprus

October 2nd 2019
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CSOA First Response Report: Iran Seizes British Tanker

July 20th 2019
 
 
 

Delta Difficulties

Written by David Rider 
December 2nd 2016
Written by David Rider
Nigeria is still taking a beating from Niger Delta militants. A recent news article stated that the country had lost over 130 million barrels of crude oil production between January and November this year due to the actions of militants. Even with the current oil price, that’s a massive financial loss for the country’s economy and even prompted speculation that the country would begin importing oil from Niger.

 

President Buhari is in a difficult position. While his government has attempted negotiations with the many disparate militant groups, who number well into double figures, he has by turns talked tough to militant groups and then pleaded with them to stop their attacks on Nigeria’s oil infrastructure.

 

This week, President Buhari suggested that the sophistication demonstrated in some of the attacks suggested that “professionals” were somehow behind the attacks. He cited one incident in which an undersea pipeline some 70km out in the Gulf of Guinea was attacked. In turn, the Nigerian Society of Engineers immediately felt the need to issue a denial, stating that neither they nor their members were involved in any illegal activity. It was a rather strange turn of events.

 

The bottom line, of course, is that instability in the Niger Delta remains a major issue. The region has seen multiple pirate attacks and armed robberies in recent weeks, and CSO Alliance understands from reliable sources that the vast majority of incidents are now going unreported. Some installations and rigs are attacked on a weekly basis.

 

This week, the reefer, Saronic Breeze, was reportedly hijacked off Cotonou and then taken towards Nigeria. Before the attackers left, they apparently kidnapped three crew. Given the ship was a reefer, it was an unusual choice for pirates to hijack. Traditionally, oil tankers have been their preferred target, although recent crude prices have rendered this option rather less viable. It will be interesting to see whether this week’s announced production cuts by OPEC (which immediately raised the per barrel price of crude) have any impact on piracy.

 

November has seen at least 11 reports of piracy and armed robbery in the Gulf of Guinea, the majority, as usual, off Nigeria. Those figures don’t include incidents involving militant attacks on oil infrastructure, which would make for grim reading, given the frequency with which they take place, despite efforts by the Nigerian Navy, Army and Joint Task Force to prevent them. On November 27th, for example, the Niger Delta Greenland Justice Mandate attacked the Abura pipeline that transports crude oil to the Out-Jeremi flow station. The damage to the pipeline, operated by the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company, is yet another headache for a country so reliant on oil exports to fund its economy.

 

Nigeria faces an uphill struggle against economic sabotage and maritime crime, while its security forces seem unable to stem the flow.