A Week in Nigeria: 15 December

Highlights from Reuters coverage of Nigeria over the last seven days

The killing of humanitarian workers in the northeast comes just over a year after Islamic State’s West Africa branch executed a Red Cross aid worker

In this week’s round-up: Islamists kill four aid workers held in northeast since July, Nigeria LNG signs deals, and rights group urges release of activist Sowore after controversial re-arrest.

  • An armed group that kidnapped humanitarian workers in northeastern Nigeria five months ago claimed it had killed four hostages, international aid agency Action Against Hunger said. Six people were abducted in July near the town of Damasak, in the state of Borno, where Islamist insurgents operate. Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP), which split from the militant group Boko Haram that began its insurgency in 2009, has become the dominant jihadist group in the region. The decade-long Islamist insurgency has caused the deaths of some 30,000 people and driven 2 million to flee their homes. Action Against Hunger said one of its employees, two drivers and three health ministry workers were abducted. In September it said one of the hostages had been killed. On Friday, the humanitarian agency said the group claimed to have killed four of the remaining five hostages. “Action Against Hunger condemns these latest killings in the strongest terms and deeply regrets that its calls for the release of the hostages have not been acted upon,” it said. The organisation called for the “immediate release” of its staff member, Grace, who remains in captivity. The killings raise further concerns about the targeting of humanitarian staff in the insurgency, coming just over a year after Islamic State’s West Africa branch executed a Red Cross aid worker who was kidnapped from another town in northeastern Nigeria in March 2018. The U.N. says 7.1 million people still need humanitarian assistance as a result of the insurgency. “Violence against humanitarian actors jeopardizes access to much needed assistance for people affected by the armed conflict,” said the U.N. humanitarian coordinator in Nigeria, Edward Kallon. The U.N. said seven aid workers have been killed since the beginning of the year, among a total of 26 U.N. and aid workers who have lost their lives in the conflict since 2011.
  • Nigeria LNG (NLNG) said it had signed a 20-year gas supply agreement with joint venture partners for the long-awaited Train 7 project to expand its liquefied natural gas plant on Bonny Island. Earlier in the week, commodities trader Vitol signed a 10-year deal with NLNG to buy 500,000 tonnes of LNG per year, ramping up its long-term presence on the market. Commodity houses, including Vitol rivals Trafigura and Gunvor, are increasingly expanding their traded spot cargo volumes with multi-year LNG deals as a global push for cleaner energy helps the market grow and mature. The deal also helps NLNG remarket volumes from existing production lines at its Bonny Island plant with a number of contracts due to expire. Vitol said it would purchase volumes from Trains 1, 2 and 3 of a six-train NLNG production facility on Bonny Island under the sales and purchase agreement, which was signed on Dec. 11 and will start in October 2021. NLNG, which produces liquefied natural gas (LNG) for export, is owned by state-run Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and foreign energy firms Royal Dutch Shell, Total and ENI, said it had signed a feed gas agreement for Train 7. NLNG operates six LNG processing units, known as trains, on Bonny Island. The Train 7 project, which is expected to increase Nigeria’s LNG production by 35% to 30 million tonnes per annum (mtpa), has been delayed for several years. A previous deadline for a Train 7 FID in the fourth quarter of 2018 was not met. Nigeria was fifth-largest LNG producer in the world last year, with its production declining. It lost its fourth place to the United States in 2018, according to the International Group of Liquefied Natural Gas Importers.

Nigeria bureau chief for Reuters. Ghanaian family, British accent. Ex-BBC, before that newspapers.