The gateway to the oil-rich Delta region in Nigeria could soon find itself under a renewed lockdown to battle rising COVID cases, the governor of the Rivers State says.
If Rivers State goes into lockdown, this could potentially impact the ability of the oil companies operating in the Delta region to move personnel to and from oilfields. Strict restrictions could affect maintenance on facilities and pipelines, as they did in the spring of last year.
The Niger Delta is the heart of Nigeria’s oil industry, producing all of the onshore crude oil that Africa’s top producer and exporter pumps.
Rivers State, whose state capital is Port Harcourt, may be forced to reimpose lockdowns if residents continue to ignore measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus amid low vaccination rates, Nyesom Wike, the governor of the state, said in an address.
“We may be constrained to reimpose the suspended COVID-19 lockdown measures across the state if the transmission of the disease continues to increase beyond tolerable limits,” Wike said in the speech, a copy of which he shared with Reuters on Tuesday.
Residents in Rivers could be “headed for a serious health disaster of profound consequences if residents and visitors continue to behave as if the pandemic no longer exists or is impotent in Rivers State,” Wike said, as carried by local media.
Over the past two weeks, COVID cases in the Rivers State are soaring. The state is the third-worst hit area in Nigeria after Lagos and Abuja, according to Reuters.
Vaccination rates are low in Nigeria, and Rivers governor Wike appealed to residents and local community and religious leaders to encourage more Nigerians to get a vaccine.
A lockdown in a key oil-producing state could impact Nigerian production, exports, and economy. According to OPEC estimates, the oil and gas industry accounts for about 10 percent of Nigeria’s GDP, while petroleum exports revenue represents a massive 86 percent of total exports revenue.
NB: Tsvetana Paraskova wrote this for Oilprice.com