Recently we presented a profile of the latest scourge to haunt Africa's former oil producing powerhouse Nigeria, namely the Niger Delta Avengers, who not only maintained a regularly updated blog following the February launch of their Godaddy-hosted website which even includes a Contact Us section...
... but are perhaps the most social media savvy "freedom fighting" organization in the world today, with a twitter account that constantly updated on the group's ongoing activities. In fact, just yesterday the NDA may have been the first such group to pre-announce a terrorist act before any of the major media outlets caught it.
It wasn't a joke.
As Reuters reported this morning, Chevron's onshore activities in Nigeria's Niger Delta have been shut down by a militant attack at its Escravos terminal, the company confirmed on Thursday.
As Reuters observes, the Niger Delta Avengers, which has told oil firms to leave the Delta before the end of May, said late on Wednesday it had blown up the facility's mains electricity feed.
"It is a crude line which means all activities in Chevron are grounded," the source told Reuters, without elaborating. There was no immediate official confirmation from Chevron.
Zebo Austin, who lives nearby, told Reuters: "We heard a loud blast at the Abiteye to Escravos crude pipeline which was blown up last night by yet-to-be identified militant group."
The Avengers and other militants, who say they are fighting for a greater share of oil profits, an end to pollution and independence for the region, have intensified attacks in recent months, pushing oil output to its lowest in more than 20 years and compounding the problems faced by Africa's largest economy.
Abuja has responded by moving in army reinforcements but British Foreign Minister Philip Hammond said this month President Muhammadu Buhari needed to deal with the root causes of the conflict.
Crude oil sales from the Delta account for 70 percent of national income but residents in the area, some of whom sympathize with the militants, have long complained of poverty. Buhari has extended an amnesty deal signed with militants in 2009 that stepped up funding for the region. But he has cut funding for the amnesty program and canceled contracts with former militants to protect the pipelines they used to attack.
Perhaps as a result of this tweeted attack, the oil grind higher continues this morning pushing both benchmark contracts above $50, since this latest attack means even more Nigerian oil output will be halted temporarily until the government finally manages to rein in this still mysterious organization with unknown funding.