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Oil Militants in the Niger Delta throttle Nigeria's Oil Production

The Niger Delta was heavily polluted due to the exploitation of Nigeria's natural resources (Watch_The_World / Shutterstock)

Nigeria continues to feel the pinch of its main export pipelines being shut down and Royal Dutch Shell apparently considers the risk from further militant attack too great to reopen.

The Trans Forcados Pipeline, the main feed to the 400,000-barrel-a-day Forcados export terminal, has been shut for all but three weeks of the past year, Lagos-based SBM Intelligence said in its weekly risk analysis published Friday.

A year ago, in their most sophisticated attack, militants used divers to blow up an underwater section of the pipeline in the Atlantic. Defying militant death threats, Shell flew in underwater engineers who took seven months to get the pipeline operational -- two days later, the militants bombed it again.

Shell Nigeria lost $3 billion during the seven months of repairs, Africa Confidential newsletter estimated at the time.

The company said that containing the leaks on the pipeline is a top priority: "Our focus on the Forcados leaks is on containment, spill recovery and securing the line," spokesman Precious Okolobo told The Associated Press a few days ago.

Oil militants are outraged the way oil companies have exploited Nigeria's natural resources, leaving behind a devastated and polluted environment. They say careless production in the southern Niger Delta has brought nothing but misery, with pollution from oil spills destroying farmlands, fishing grounds and millions of livelihoods.

At the same time, the government and militants are talking and there has not been a major attack since an August cease-fire to allow negotiations between the government, representatives of militants, community leaders and oil companies operating in the Niger Delta. Community leaders have expressed confidence in Vice President Yemi Osinbajo's visits and promises of a comprehensive plan to help residents benefit from oil production.

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