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#Endsars protest: Nigeria oil sector running amidst eruption of violence

By on October 23, 2020 0 87 Views

Amidst escalating tensions and destructions across Nigeria in the wake of the shooting of unarmed peaceful protesters in Lagos, crude oil productions remain uninterrupted because the oil wells and rigs are far away from the scene of destruction.

Aftermath of the shooting of #endsars protesters by soldiers who invaded their camp at the Lekki Toll Plaza on Tuesday night, hoodlums took over with the reign of terror in both Lagos, the commercial nerve centre and other parts of the country to wreak havoc on public and private property, including Police Stations, municipal buses and courts.

The state crackdown on the protesters in a nation that accounts for roughly 20 percent of Africa’s entire oil production triggered mayhem, which put economic activities on hold.

Exports, planned shipments and output of crude oil are continuing to run as normal, according to shipping data, traders and local officials.

Telltale signs of disruption to oil supplies would be a return to hostilities by militias in the oil-rich Niger River delta, or if the crisis degenerates into sectarian violence. A major strike by the nation’s key oil unions would potentially impact flows too.

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These things haven’t happened yet. While the unions announced their support for the protesters on Oct. 19, they’ve not ordered a shut down of oil installations, according to a statement.

“If there are army or police shootings on protesters here, the natural retaliatory reaction would definitely involve attacks on oil facilities,” Ledum Mitee, former head of a presidential committee which recommended amnesty for militants, said in an interview.

At the moment, that amnesty — which involves a government payment to militants — is still in place, offering a degree of assurance that oil facilities won’t be disrupted.

Back in 2016, myriad militia organizations emerged in the Niger Delta, attacking oil facilities and causing production to plunge. Output did fall earlier this year, but that’s because Nigeria is participating in coordinated curbs organized by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.

An group called Reformed Niger Delta Avengers, described by local newspaper ThisDay as a coalition of nine militant groups, did warn it could carry out attacks if the federal government didn’t meet the protesters’ demands. It’s not clear how powerful the RNDA is, and so far it has yet to act.

President Muhammadu Buhari appealed for peace in a state broadcast late Thursday, pledging his government will keep its “obligation to protect lives and properties.”

Millions of young Nigerians across the nation of more than 200 million people have poured onto the streets since Oct. 5 in protest against police brutality. That morphed into a catch-all for everything that ails the country, from corruption to bad governance. At least 56 people have died during the unrest. The oil industry has gotten through largely unscathed with most facilities far out to sea and beyond easy reach.

Nigeria’s oil exports for November are set to climb to 1.76 million barrels, according to loading programs. October shipments averaged 1.64 million barrels.

~ With Bloomberg report

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