More oil was spilled into the much-abused wetlands of the Niger Delta as militants seeking to shut down the region’s production claimed responsibility for three attacks on infrastructure that left crude leaking from at least one pipeline.
The Niger Delta Avengers said oil companies are responsible for polluting the ecologically sensitive swampland region, while its people get no benefit from the exploitation of its petroleum reserves. The Niger Delta’s two million barrels per day (bpd) of production make it a major supplier to international oil markets, but the group claimed its attacks had cut production to 800,000 bpd. After one of the attacks, Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria confirmed that a 250,000-bpd pipeline was leaking.
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The Nigerian Air Force said it had responded by sending “fighter aircraft, helicopter gunships and surveillance aircraft” to the area for “offensive air operations and intelligence gathering.” According to Reuters, local youth groups reported that conditions were “rapidly deteriorating and getting out of control.”
In the wake of the attacks, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, a Muslim from the country’s north, cancelled what would have been his first visit to the largely Christian Delta region since taking office last year.
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