Anger in the Delta keeps oil majors quiet - and Nigeria's crude offline
By Libby George and Ulf Laessing
LONDON/LAGOS (Reuters) - Oil companies and even Nigerian officials are losing faith in a deal anytime soon with militants who have slashed the nation's oil output, casting doubt on a production recovery in what is typically Africa's largest oil exporter.
In the six months since the first major attack on Nigeria's oil – a sophisticated bombing of the subsea Forcados pipeline – dozens of attacks have pushed outages to more than 700,000 barrels per day (bpd), the highest in seven years.
Talk in the country has shifted from ceasefire optimism, and oil companies' assurances that repairs were underway, to hedged comments from the government and radio silence from oil majors.
On Sunday, the Niger Delta Avengers militants, which have claimed several major pipeline attacks, said in a statement they were ready to give dialogue a chance.
But highlighting the fracturing of militants into small groups, the previous day a group called Niger Delta Green Justice Mandate claimed an attack on a gas pipeline in the southern swamps lands.
Without a unified command and groups dominated by "generals" unable to fully control their own fighters, it is difficult for the government to identify the right people to talk to or enforce any ceasefire.
"People are giving up in the short term," one oil industry source told Reuters of a resumption in exports of key Nigerian grades such as Forcados or Qua Iboe, adding you "can't get anything" out of the majors, including Shell, Chevron, ExxonMobil or ENI, about when the oil might come back.
Shell declined to comment, while the other companies did not immediately responded to a request for comment. Continued...