C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 LAGOS 001998
STATE FOR AF/W
STATE FOR EB/ESC/IEC/ENR/BLEVINE
STATE FOR DS/IP/AF
STAT FOR INR/AA
STATE PASS DOE FOR DAS JBRODMAN AND CGAY
STATE PASS TREASURY FOR ASEVERENS AND SRENENDER
STATE PASS DOC PHUPER
STATE PASS TRANSPORTATION FOR MARAD
E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/29/2009
TAGS: MOPS CASC EPET PGOV NI DELTAVIOLENCE
SUBJECT: DELTA VIOLENCE UPDATE FOR SEPTEMBER 29
REF: A. LAGOS 1982
Â¶B. LAGOS 1978
Â¶C. ABUJA 1656
Â¶D. ABUJA 1486
Â¶E. LAGOS 1892
Â¶F. LAGOS 1820
Classified By: Consul General Brian L. Browne for Reasons 1.5 (B & D)
Â¶1. (C) Given the significant international press
coverage and the threats of Ijaw secession made by Niger
Delta People's Volunteer Force (NPDVF) leader Alhaji Dokubo
Asari, the National Council of State authorized President
Obasanjo to take strong actions against Delta militants and
any other groups that pose a threat to national security.
There are mixed reports on whether GON military engaged any
delta militants today. We continue to be in close contact
with oil companies and AMCIT wardens.
Â¶2. (C) The Council of State authorized President Obasanjo to
"deal with persons or groups whose activities or utterances
threaten the sovereignty" of the country. The authorization
was hardly necessary as a practical matter. Obasanjo does
not need the NCS imprimatur. However, it is symbolically
important as it provides Obasanjo justification and political
cover to handle the situation as he sees fit, which could
include continuing and perhaps intensifying military
operations if negotiations with Asari fail to yield
Â¶3. (C) Shell Managing Director Basil Omiya told Consul
General that the GON had opened discussions with the NPDVF.
Omiya said initial read-outs from these discussions were
positive. Oyimi added that fighters were seen returning to
their villages. However, it is not clear whether they are
returning to their villages for a brief rest before returning
to the creeks or if they are laying down their arms.
Meanwhile, Exxon Mobil reported on-going military operations
against militants, possibly resulting in some fatalities.
Reports from the Energy Sector
Â¶4. (C) Shell: Shell's Managing Director (MD) reported
general quiet within the Port Harcourt city environs, with no
discernible change in the security situation from yesterday.
Shell's Director for External Relations confirmed press
reports of closure of the Santa Barbara flow station
yesterday, as Shell staff were unable to visit the station to
correct a technical problem. This is the third Shell flow
station affected by the security situation; stations at Soku
and Ekulama were evacuated of non-essential staff, but still
maintain production. Production losses from Santa Barbara
were already included in the reduction of approximately
50,000 barrels/day reported yesterday.
Â¶5. (C )AGIP/ENI: The General Manager (GM) for Public Affairs
reported that AGIP has not evacuated any staff, despite
threats by Asari against AGIP personnel. AGIP production
remains normal. The GM indicated that AGIP maintains most of
its flow stations in Bayelsa, with an additional two in Omuku
and Ahoda. The editor of Nigerian publication, Oil and Gas
monthly, told Consulate staff contrary to AGIP claims, he
believes the company has begun evacuating some staff from the
Â¶6. (C) Chevron/Texaco: Chevron continues to monitor the
security situation through its own security personnel and
through their contacts with Nigerian military on the ground.
Although not dismissing the threats, Chevron believes Asari
is more bluster than anything else. Nevertheless, Chevron is
taking precautions. Chevron gauges that Asari does not enjoy
widespread popular support. Chevron senses no agitation in
the communities near its operations. (Comment: Human Rights
NGOs and some other civil society groups maintain Asari
enjoys considerable popular support. They agree with
Chevron's assertion that Asari has been adept at
manipulating the international media. End Comment). For
October 1, the first day of the Asari's threat, Chevron has
ordered all employees to work from home, but it expects to
resume normal business operations the following business day.
Â¶7. (C) Exxon Mobil: Exxon Mobil MD informed Consulate Lagos
that their local contacts reported some skirmishes between
the GON and militants in the riverine areas today, possibly
resulting in some fatalities. Exxon/Mobil has issued a
communiqu, advising all employees to exercise caution and
minimize travel, with a complete travel ban in the areas
affected by the military operation. Exxon/Mobil plans to
meet September 30 to review its threat assessment level,
currently at level three in a four-tiered system. There has
been no change in the company's production level.
Â¶8. (C) Halliburton: Acting Halliburton Security Director and
Facility Manager for Port Harcourt confirmed no changes in
Halliburton's security assessment. He believes the media
reports are exaggerating the threat. He notes that rebel
activities are restricted to the creeks and waterways, not
the city of Port Harcourt. Energy company security officers
in Port Harcourt will meet later today to compare notes on a
rally planned for October 1 by the National Association of
Nigerian Students (NANS) to protest the recent fuel hikes and
the wider security situation.
Â¶9. (C) Tidex: The MD for Tidex, an oil service company
(OSC) which runs large boat operations for Chevron and other
majors in the Port Harcourt, noted that there is increased
tension in the area, but said he saw nothing to suggest that
expatriates are being specifically targeted. On any given
day, TIDEX has 10-25 AMCITs in the Port Harcourt area.
Â¶10. (C) Panalpina: Panalpina Oil and Gas Sales Manager stated
that his Port Harcourt office reported much higher
mobilizations of soldiers on the outskirts of Port Harcourt.
His staff had counted at least 40 armored personnel carriers
being mobilized on heavy lorries. He believes that military
activity has escalated in the area since 21 September.
Panalpina Manager noted that his staff, like many energy
sector employees, are generally staying on their compounds,
and taking precautions such as carrying radios when venturing
out. Panalpina is updating its evacuation plans to evacuate
their personnel by water, if necessary.
Â¶11. (U) Coopers Cameron: Coopers Cameron Manager reported no
significant changes since yesterday.
Â¶12. (SBU) There have been no reports of any incidents
Â¶13. ( C) Several local journalists have informed us that some
media houses have been pressured by government officials,
including Rivers State Governor Odili to reduce their
coverage on the Port Harcourt situation. This may have
caused some self-censorship. Now that the story
is being covered in the international media, local media is
reporting more on it. Nonetheless, Oil Watch Africa, an NGO
that monitors the energy industry, reported that local
newspapers carried mostly wire reports on the story, and did
not seem to be doing independent coverage. Oil Watch Africa
reported that local television in Port Harcourt is not
reporting on the situation.