The Biggest Oil Producer in Africa to Face Another Set of Militant Attacks

In 2017, militants attacked Nigerian oil production infrastructure frequently. Plenty of people were killed and wounded.

New radical groups threaten to restart brutal attacks as Nigeria enters a presidential campaign in 2018.

Numerous analysts warn that terrorists can soon cause mayhem on Nigeria's oil industry, dropping the African petrostate back into a cycle of damage.

Nigeria is one of the biggest oil producers in Africa. 2017 is  a relatively calm period in its active southern delta region. At the beginning of 2016, a strange terrorist group, named the Niger Delta Avengers, carried out several massive attacks on Nigeria's oil production, which immediately resulted in oil prices decrease.

As NAIJ Nigeria informs, Nigeria's oil output has bounced back to almost 1.8 million barrels daily, quicker than what was expected in 2017. This fact has already upset all OPEC's efforts to consume a global crude glut through synchronized output cuts. A turnaround would probably put upward pressure on oil cost.

The Niger Delta Avengers wish to get as much as possible of Nigeria's energy revenue. Their numerous attacks caused billions in vanished income. The Avengers seem to collaborate with a group of Niger Delta chiefs that are engaged in negotiations with the government. However, many other terrorist groups have already announced that they would ignore all further negotiations.

Thus, in July 2017, the Niger Delta Revolutionary Crusaders group promised to restart violent attacks at the beginning of October. The other militant groups promised the same.

A political risk analyst at Teneo Intelligence, Manji Cheto, said that peace in the Niger Delta had always been temporary. She added that the chances of new attacks are quite small (30%). However, the odds that attacks will repeat will be significantly increased by 60% in 2018 as the presidential campaign in Nigeria will start the following year. A chief issue will be whether southerners recognize that Nigerian Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, who has organized all negotiations, is being sidelined.

According to risk consultancy, Eurasia Group, Buhari's government will undoubtedly struggle to keep the harmony during the presidential campaign year. Analysts noted that Nigerian president has already enlarged payments to ex-militants throughout an amnesty program and rewarded new security contracts to militant-linked companies.

Eurasia Group continues hat new militant groups will probably perform attacks in the hopes of protecting similar payouts. However, it is still doubtful if they can perform complicated attacks analogous to those carried out by MEND or the Niger Delta Avengers.

“We can predict that one such militant group can get the resources to pull off a critical attack that considerably disturbs oil production. However, even in that situation, the administration will probably react swiftly with diplomatic overtures, thus diminishing any future impact on oil production volumes,” informed Amaka Anku, senior Africa analyst at Eurasia Group

10 October 2017 12:18