By Rafiu Oriyomi Ajakaye
LAGOS, Nigeria (AA) – A little-known militant group has claimed to have blown up an oil well of the multinational American corporation Chevron in the restive Niger Delta region despite assurances by Nigerian authorities that it is in talks with “all stakeholders”.
The Niger Delta Avengers said in a statement it blew up an oil-well “RMP 20”, belonging to Chevron located in the Warri North local government area of the Delta state.
“This is to [show to] the general public we are not negotiating with any committee. If the federal government is discussing with any group, they're doing that on their own,” the statement added.
The oil company Chevron declined to confirm the incident. "As a matter of long-standing policy, we do not comment on the safety and security of our personnel and operations," Isabel Ordonez, a company spokesman, told Anadolu Agency.
The statement came barely 24 hours after the Nigerian government said it was talking with stakeholders, understood to include the militants, and was withdrawing troops from communities in the region where militants had been blowing gas pipelines in the past few weeks.
Ifeanyi Okowa, governor of oil-rich delta state, confirmed the government move in remarks to the media Tuesday after a top-level meeting with the Vice President Yemi Osinbajo in the Nigerian capital city Abuja.
“We...agreed that there is a need to distill military operations directly in communities, but the military needs to actually remain on our waterways to ensure that we adequately man the waterways itself while we engage the communities and that engagement process is starting any moment from now,” Okowa said.
The bombings, all claimed by the Niger Delta Avengers, brought the country's oil production to a record low of around 1.1 million barrel per day, down from 2.2 million barrels per day.
With the price of crude at an all-time low, the renewed militancy and reduced production means an even bleaker future for Nigeria, which depends solely on earnings from oil.
The Niger Delta Avengers is said to have been formed early this year and it began launching attacks on oil pipelines in the region late February.
Niger Delta, an oil-rich region in Nigeria, comprises of Akwa Ibom, Cross Rivers, Bayelsa and Edo states.