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Nigeria Oil Output Drops Further as Leak Compounds Security Woes

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Adenuga

At least a fifth of Nigerian oil output, equivalent to almost 400,000 barrels a day, has been shut down as a pipeline closure added to disruptions caused by militant attacks.

Royal Dutch Shell Plc declared force majeure — a legal clause that allows it to stop shipments without breaching contracts — on exports of Bonny Light crude following the discovery Tuesday of a leak on the Nembe Creek Trunk Line, according to a statement Wednesday. The incident comes amid escalating attacks by militants operating in the Niger delta, which have already halted shipments from the Forcados terminal and the Okan oil platform.

“‘We don’t know if it’s an attack or sabotage” on the Nembe Creek line, Lagos-based Sola Omole, a spokesman for Aiteo Exploration and Production Co., the operator of the pipeline, said by phone. “It is only when the contractor gets to the site and takes a look at it that we can say definitively that this is the cause of the problem. ”

 A resurgence of attacks on oil infrastructure caused Nigerian production to drop to the lowest in 20 years last month, compounding the impact of slumping crude prices on Africa’s largest economy. Formerly the continent’s largest oil producer, the nation has slipped into second place after Angola, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Production Halt

The Nembe Creek Trunk Line runs for 100 kilometers (62 miles) through the Nigeria’s oil producing region to the Bonny crude oil terminal and has a capacity of 600,000 barrels a day, according to Shell’s website. At least 78,000 barrels a day of Aiteo’s crude output has been shut down because of the leak, Omole said. Shell said the force majeure covers all Bonny Light shipments — scheduled at 217,000 barrels a day next month — without specifying how much production could be disrupted.

The shutdown last week of Chevron Corp.’s Okan platform, which feeds the Escravos export facility, affected 90,000 barrels a day of production. About 200,000 barrels a day of output has been halted at Shell’s Forcados terminal since February.

Oil futures recouped losses following the Bonny Light force majeure, with international benchmark Brent crude gaining as much as 1.3 percent to $46.13 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange.

Delta Avengers

A group calling itself the Niger Delta Avengers said on its website that it was responsible for the attack on the Chevron facility. The authenticity of the claim could not be verified by Bloomberg News.

Nigeria’s armed forces are aware of a new group “who have vowed to cripple economic activities,” Brigadier General Rabe Abubakar said in a statement on Tuesday. “The military will employ all available means and measures within its rule of engagement to crush any individual or group that engages in the destruction of strategic assets and facilities of the government.”

International producers including Shell and Chevron began evacuating non-essential workers and contractors from major oil production facilities as part of safety measures, Chika Onuebgu, Rivers state chairman of the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria, said by phone Tuesday. “It is not a lock-down, it is just a precautionary measure” and oil operations continue in areas not affected by attacks.

The current attacks echo a similar wave of violence between 2006 and 2009, which ended after militants accepted an amnesty from late-President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, disarming in exchange for cash payments. The militants have been frustrated by current President Muhammadu Buhari’s decision to scale back the allowances.

The International Energy Agency estimated last month that Nigeria could lose an estimated $1 billion in revenue by May, when it expects repairs on Forcados to be completed. The terminal may not restart until June, Kachikwu said April 20.

“The government needs to address this very quickly,” Onuegbu says. “Insecurity is becoming a big problem in the Niger delta with the return of these attacks.”

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and Investing.com, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.

Government

COVID-19 Vaccine: African Export-Import Bank (Afrexim) to Purchase 270 Million Doses for Nigeria, Other African Nations

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African Export-Import Bank (Afrexim) Approves $2 Billion for the Purchase of 270 million Doses for African Nations

African Export-Import Bank (Afrexim) said it has approved $2 billion for the purchase of 270 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines for African nations, including Nigeria.

Prof. Benedict Oramah, the President of the Bank, disclosed this at a virtual Africa Soft Power Series held on Tuesday.

He, however, stated that the lender is looking to raise more funds for the COVID-19 vaccines’ acquisition.

He said: “The African Union knows that unless you put the virus away, your economy can’t come back. If Africa didn’t do anything, it would become a COVID-19 continent when other parts of the world have already moved on.
“Recall that it took seven years during the heat of HIV for them to come to Africa after 12 million people had died.

“With the assistance of the AU, we were able to get 270 million vaccines and financing need of about $2 billion. Afreximbank then went ahead to secure the $2 billion. But that money for the 270 million doses could only add 15 per cent to the 20 per cent that Covax was bringing.

He added that this is not the time to wait for handouts or free vaccines as other countries will naturally sort themselves out before African nations.

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China Calls for Better China-U.S. Relations

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China Calls for China-U.S. Relations

Senior Chinese diplomat Wang Yi said on Monday the United States and China could work together on issues like climate change and the coronavirus pandemic if they repaired their damaged bilateral relationship.

Wang, a Chinese state councillor and foreign minister, said Beijing stood ready to reopen constructive dialogue with Washington after relations between the two countries sank to their lowest in decades under former president Donald Trump.

Wang called on Washington to remove tariffs on Chinese goods and abandon what he said was an irrational suppression of the Chinese tech sector, steps he said would create the “necessary conditions” for cooperation.

Before Wang spoke at a forum sponsored by the foreign ministry, officials played footage of the “ping-pong diplomacy” of 1972 when an exchange of table tennis players cleared the way for then U.S. President Richard Nixon to visit China.

Wang, a Chinese state councillor and foreign minister, said Beijing stood ready to reopen constructive dialogue with Washington after relations between the two countries sank to their lowest in decades under former president Donald Trump.

Wang called on Washington to remove tariffs on Chinese goods and abandon what he said was an irrational suppression of the Chinese tech sector, steps he said would create the “necessary conditions” for cooperation.

Before Wang spoke at a forum sponsored by the foreign ministry, officials played footage of the “ping-pong diplomacy” of 1972 when an exchange of table tennis players cleared the way for then U.S. President Richard Nixon to visit China.

Wang urged Washington to respect China’s core interests, stop “smearing” the ruling Communist Party, stop interfering in Beijing’s internal affairs and stop “conniving” with separatist forces for Taiwan’s independence.

“Over the past few years, the United States basically cut off bilateral dialogue at all levels,” Wang said in prepared remarks translated into English.

“We stand ready to have candid communication with the U.S. side, and engage in dialogues aimed at solving problems.”

Wang pointed to a recent call between Chinese President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Joe Biden as a positive step.

Washington and Beijing have clashed on multiple fronts including trade, accusations of human rights crimes against the Uighur Muslim minorities in the Xinjiang region and Beijing’s territorial claims in the resources-rich South China Sea.

The Biden administration has, however, signalled it will maintain pressure on Beijing. Biden has voiced concern about Beijing’s “coercive and unfair” trade practices and endorsed of a Trump administration determination that China has committed genocide in Xinjiang.

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U.S. Supreme Court Allows Release of Trump Tax Returns

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President Trump Signs Executive Order In Oval Office Of The White House

U.S. Supreme Court Allows Release of Trump Tax Returns

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday paved the way for a New York City prosecutor to obtain former President Donald Trump’s tax returns and other financial records as part of a criminal investigation, a blow to his quest to conceal details of his finances.

The justices without comment rebuffed Trump’s request to put on hold an Oct. 7 lower court ruling directing the former Republican president’s longtime accounting firm, Mazars USA, to comply with a subpoena to turn over the materials to a grand jury convened by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, a Democrat.

“The work continues,” Vance said in a statement issued after the court’s action.

Vance had previously said in a letter to Trump’s lawyers that his office would be free to immediately enforce the subpoena if the justices rejected Trump’s request.

A lawyer for Trump did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Supreme Court, which has a 6-3 conservative majority included three Trump appointees, had already ruled once in the dispute, last July rejecting Trump’s broad argument that he was immune from criminal probes as a sitting president.

Unlike all other recent U.S. presidents, Trump refused during his four years in office to make his tax returns public. The data could provide details on his wealth and the activities of his family real-estate company, the Trump Organization.

Trump, who left office on Jan. 20 after being defeated in his Nov. 3 re-election bid by Democrat Joe Biden, continues to face an array of legal issues concerning his personal and business conduct.

Vance issued a subpoena to Mazars in August 2019 seeking Trump’s corporate and personal tax returns from 2011 to 2018. Trump’s lawyers sued to block the subpoena, arguing that as a sitting president, Trump had absolute immunity from state criminal investigations.

The Supreme Court in its July ruling rejected those arguments but said Trump could raise other objections to the subpoena. Trump’s lawyers then argued before lower courts that the subpoena was overly broad and amounted to political harassment, but U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero in August and the New York-based 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in October rejected those claims.

Vance’s investigation, which began more than two years ago, had focused on hush money payments that the president’s former lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen made before the 2016 election to two women – adult-film actress Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal – who said they had sexual encounters with Trump.

In recent court filings, Vance has suggested that the probe is now broader and could focus on potential bank, tax and insurance fraud, as well as falsification of business records.

In separate litigation, the Democratic-led U.S. House of Representatives was seeking to subpoena similar records. The Supreme Court in July sent that matter back to lower courts for further review.

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