President Muhammadu Buhari has assured oil companies operating in the Nigeria’s Niger Delta that the government is taking all necessary actions to protect strategic assets in the region from vandals and criminals.
President Buhari gave the assurance on Friday in Abuja at a meeting with the Global Director (Upstream) of the Royal Dutch Shell Group, Mr Andrew Brown.
He told the oil giant that he had directed the Chief of Naval Staff to re-organise and strengthen the military Joint Task Force (JTF) in the Niger Delta, to deal effectively with the resurgence of militancy and the sabotage of oil installations.
The President said that the operations of the JTF were also being enhanced with increased support and cooperation from the United States and Europe in the areas of training, intelligence, equipment and logistics.
“We have to be very serious with the situation in the Niger Delta because it threatens the national economy.
“I assure you that everything possible will be done to protect personnel and oil assets in the region,” he said in a statement by his spokesman, Garba Shehu.
President Buhari urged aggrieved persons, militants and communities in the Niger Delta to drop their confrontational stance and work with those who had been charged by the Federal Government to review the Amnesty Programme initiated by the Yar’Adua Administration for the benefit of all parties.
He praised the resilience and staying power of Shell in Nigeria, despite the operational challenges of the environment.
President Buhari urged the company to do its best to end gas-flaring in southern Nigeria as soon as possible and produce more gas for electricity generation to support manufacturing and job creation.
Mr Brown had appealed for an urgent solution to rising crime and militancy in the Niger Delta, just as the Shell executive dispelled speculations that the company was pulling out of Nigeria.
He said that contrary to such speculations, Shell was currently in discussions with the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) on new joint oil and gas projects.
Meanwhile, there is a report that a gas pipeline in the Niger Delta region operated by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) was attacked on Thursday.
The attacked occurred late at night, according to a spokesman for a local community group and a witness.