Nigeria's state-run oil firm today said it had shut two refineries in the southern city of Port Harcourt and Kaduna in the north because sabotage to crude pipelines.
The plants were shut on Sunday because of "breaches" to the Bonny-Okrika supply line to Port Harcourt and the Escravos-Warri pipeline to Kaduna, the company said in an emailed statement.
Nigeria's minister of power Babatunde Fashola said yesterday the country was losing some USD 2.3 million a day to attacks on gas facilities and lost electricity production.
The military said separately it would no longer tolerate the sabotage and blamed it on "criminal elements who are bent on destroying the nation's strategic assets".
Supporters of former Niger Delta militant Government Ekpemupolo, also known as "Tompolo", are believed to have been behind a series of strikes on pipelines in Delta state at the weekend.
A court in Lagos last Thursday ordered his arrest on theft and money laundering charges totalling more than USD 175 million.
Despite being Africa's number one oil producer, Nigeria has relied on imports of petroleum products because of a lack of domestic refining capacity. Fuel shortages are commonplace.
But as part of moves to overhaul the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), the government has been working to improve capacity at the country's under-performing state-owned refineries.
The four facilities in Port Harcourt, the Delta town of Warri and Kaduna have a combined capacity to process 445,000 barrels of crude per day.
Throughout last year they were operating at just a fraction of that.
The NNPC said in the statement that before the closure, the Port Harcourt refinery was processing more than 4.1 million litres of petrol per day while Kaduna was producing about 1.3 million litres.
Warri was "still on stream" and producing just over 1.4 million litres of petrol daily, it added.
"In response to the unexpected setback, we have activated comprehensive remedial measures to sustain the prevailing stability in the supply and distribution of petroleum products across the country," the company said.