"Our aim is to totally destroy the capacity of the Nigerian government to export oil..." from an e-mail sent by the new Nigerian guerrilla group, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Nigerian Delta (MEND), that claimed the recent attacks.
A series of high tempo attacks (four in the last five days) have deeply disrupted Nigeria's oil production -- attacks on oil platforms, a pumping station, and pipelines have already reduced the country's oil production by 10%. Shell has withdrawn 330 employees from the region, and shut down four pumping stations. Four Shell employees are currently being held hostage.These attacks are substantially more sophisticated than previous efforts which were typically either riot/protests or bunkering gone awry. These new attacks include:
- Swarm-based maneuver. The guerrillas are using speed boats in the Niger Delta's swamps to quickly attack targets in succession. Multiple, highly maneuverable units have kept the government and Shell's defensive systems off-balance defending the sprawling network.
- Radically improved firepower and combat training. This new capability has allowed the guerrillas to overpower a combination of Shell's western-trained private military guards and elite Nigerian units in several engagements. Note: one of Shell's private military operators was captured as a hostage.
- Effective use of system disruption. Targets have been accurately selected to completely shut down production and delay/halt repairs. This is a systematic operation. Additionally, the guerrillas are making effective use of Shell's hostages to coerce both the government and the company (for more on the effective use of corporate hostage taking, see brief: Halliburton Strategy).
- Massive disruption. Given the capabilities demonstrated, estimates of potential disruption in Nigeria could reach one million barrels of oil a day on average. Also, this means a second leg of a global guerrilla shadow OPEC is now in place (in addition to Iraq). This will shift control over two million barrels a day of production into the hands of global guerrillas (more 'swing' capacity than Saudi Arabia). Think: a new trading range for oil in $70-$80 range.
- A cash crises in Nigeria. The country's loss of oil revenue may cause massive instability which will fuel further conflict. If this is combined with disruption of basic services the cities, all bets for the future of Nigeria as a cohesive "state" (even a non-functional kleptocracy) are off.
- An accelerated spread of global guerrillas. The successful coercion and (potential) collapse of the Nigerian/corporate status quo will be a strong incentive for other groups to replicate their methods. Look to Russia, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan for more on this...