In the last week, the army has destroyed two gang (rebel group MEND) camps, killed over 200 gangsters (and several times as many civilian bystanders as well). The army likes to keep its casualties down, so it uses helicopter gunships (or just transport helicopters armed with a machine-gun or two), and lots of long range machine-gun fire by ground troops. The army has more firepower than MEND or the gangsters, and always wins. With their camps, and most of their possessions, gone, many of the organized gangsters have fled and gone freelance. The crime rate will decline somewhat, but there's still too much money to be made stealing oil from punctured pipelines. Shipping more oil does not help most Nigerians, since corrupt politicians continue to steal most of the oil revenue that flows to the government.
The violence in the Niger Delta has made it difficult for the country to meet its OPEC quota of 1.67 million barrels a day. Shipments are now closer to 1.5 million barrels a day, and have recently dipped to 1.2 million barrels a day, as repair teams rushed to fix pipelines damaged by oil thieves and militants. If there was no violence and large scale oil theft, Nigeria should be able to ship 2.5 million barrels a day.
While the violence in the Niger Delta oilfields gets most of the headlines, an outbreak of meningitis has killed over 2,000 Nigerians in the last few months. Many more healthy Nigerians die from a wide variety of curable diseases and avoidable accidents. Local groups in the Niger Delta, like MEND, have escalated the war by threatening any Moslem northerners working in the oil region. This could trigger violence against Christian southerners living in the north.
May 16, 2009: MEND said they had blown up two pipelines. The oil companies have repair crews ready for this sort of thing, as there are numerous instances of pipeline damage from oil thieves punching holes in the pipelines. Even blown up portions of pipelines are quickly repaired.
May 15, 2009: MEND has given the oil companies another deadline (until tomorrow) to evacuate the oil fields. The oil companies continue to ignore MEND. In the last two days, the army says it has killed over 200 MEND rebels, during attacks on MEND camps.
May 13, 2009: In the Niger Delta, local rebel group MEND gave foreign oil companies in the area 24 hours to evacuate their staff, or face attack and more kidnappings. MEND is reacting to increasing army and police attacks on MEND camps, and the arrest and killing of MEND members. Pirates also captured two ships near the delta coast. MEND has made these demands before, and the oil companies don't take them seriously.