Efforts by the federal government to increase the production of locally refined petroleum products through repairs on the Warri and Kaduna refineries suffered major setback with the blowing up of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) crude trunkline feeding crude oil to both Warri and Kaduna refineries late on Thursday night.

The attack on the NNPC facility, which was recently repaired, is the second in as many days carried out by a new group of suspected militants in the Niger Delta that has vowed to cripple the oil and gas industry and the backbone of the Nigerian economy.

Also reportedly hit in the latest attack on Thursday night is an oil flow station feeding the Chevron Tank-farm in Warri South-West Government Area, Delta State.

A gas line feeding Lagos and Abuja power plants were said to have been hit in what appears to be a well-coordinated renewed attack on the oil facilities in the Niger Delta.

OUR newsmen on Saturday learnt that attacks took place a few kilometers from a military checkpoint at about 10:30pm, though there was no official statement on the incident.

The Valve Platform, an offshore oil facility belonging to Chevron Nigeria Limited CNL located near Escravos, also in Warri South-west, was on last week Wednesday night  damaged following an attack by a new group that goes by the name, Niger Delta Avengers(N.D.A), which claimed responsibility.

Worst hit by Thursday’s attacks, according to early security and company sources, is the Chevron Well D25 in Abiteye, a major gas Well belonging to Chevron which serves the Abiteye, Alero, Dibi, Otunana and Makaraba flow stations that feed the Chevron tank farm in Escravos.

Meanwhile, the Niger Delta Avengers (NDA), the nascent militia that claimed responsibility for the previous night’s attack on the Chevron offshore facility, said that they also carried out the latest series of attack.

A statement yesterday by the group’s spokesman, Mudoch Agbinibo, however, placed blame for the attack on footstep of ex-militant leader and senior Ijaw traditional chief, Chief Government Ekpemupolo, better known as Tompolo.

The statement also warned politicians, traditional rulers and other influential individuals in the oil-rich region to stop their meddlesome activities and selfish politicking aimed at putting them in the good books of the Federal Government.

The NDA spokesman alleged that latest attack was in line with a three-day ultimatum to Tompolo “to apologise” to the group for allegedly insulting the group.

Agbinibo said that the attack was merely in fulfillment of ND’s threat to launch an attack on an oil installation within Tompolo’s enclave in Ijaw Gbaramatu Kingdom.

While “Team 6” of the group was said to have carried out Wednesday’s attack successfully, Thursday’s operation was carried out by its “Team 4”, the statement noted, stressing its determination to deal a deadly blow on oil and gas production in Nigeria.

According to the statement, “This is a clear warning to the all Niger Delta politicians, traditional rulers, community leaders, and the likes of Tompolo to mind their business and leave the liberation of the Niger Delta people to the Avengers; those who believe taking sides with (the) federal government to fight Niger Deltans is the best option.

“Avengers are here on ground, neither you nor the federal government can stop us. If you don’t steer clear and let us carry out our activities, we will bring the fight to your individual doorsteps. Our major goal is to cripple the Nigerian economy.

“We are using this medium to ask all Niger Deltans to take the war to all oil installations in their various communities because this is your war.”

The spokesman of the Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS) Delta, N.B Lamu, confirmed the development to newsmen yesterday but added that he could not give further details as a verification team had been dispatched to the affected offshore area.

— OkoroChukwu Ikechukwu. ( correspondent)