The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Wednesday, said it is shutting down two of the country’s four refineries because militant attacks on pipelines have affected their supplies.
A statement Wednesday announced an “operational shutdown” of refineries in Port Harcourt, the oil capital in the southern Niger Delta, and in northern Kaduna city after weekend attacks on two strategic oil supply lines.
The plants were shut on Sunday because of “breaches” to the Bonny-Okrika supply line to Port Harcourt and the Escravos-Warri pipeline to Kaduna, the company said in an emailed statement.
The refineries had recently reopened following months of inactivity. Oil-rich Nigeria imports 90 percent of refined products and suffers regular fuel shortages because of a lack of maintenance.
The weekend attacks came after a court ordered the arrest of former warlord, Government Ekpemupolo, also known as Tompolo, who is accused of corruption.
A court in Lagos last Thursday ordered Tompolo’s arrest on theft and money laundering charges.
The Niger Delta had been relatively peaceful since a 2009 amnesty halted attacks by militants demanding a bigger share of revenues from oil production that has destroyed the environment.
Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, said on Tuesday the country was losing N470,479,931 a day to attacks on gas facilities and lost electricity production. The military said separately it would no longer tolerate the sabotage and blamed it on “criminal elements who are bent on destroying the nation’s strategic assets”.
Despite being Africa’s number one oil producer, Nigeria has relied on imports of petroleum products because of a lack of domestic refining capacity. Fuel shortages are commonplace.
But as part of moves to overhaul the NNPC, the government has been working to improve capacity at the country’s under-performing state-owned refineries. The four facilities in Port Harcourt, the Delta town of Warri and Kaduna have a combined capacity to process 445,000 barrels of crude per day. Throughout last year they were operating at just a fraction of that.
The NNPC said in the statement that before the closure, the Port Harcourt refinery was processing more than 4.1 million litres of petrol per day while Kaduna was producing about 1.3 million litres. Warri was “still on stream” and producing just over 1.4 million litres of petrol daily, it added.
“In response to the unexpected setback, we have activated comprehensive remedial measures to sustain the prevailing stability in the supply and distribution of petroleum products across the country,” the company said.