* Crackdown on illegal refineries raises tension
* Attacks cost Nigeria up to $100 bln in lost revenue
* Graphic on Nigeria oil output tmsnrt.rs/2j4spa2
(Adds losses to oil militancy)
By Tife Owolabi
PORT HARCOURT, Nigeria, Feb 14 Nigeria needs to
offer work to people who make a living from illegally refining
oil in the Niger Delta to achieve peace there, Vice President
Yemi Osinbajo said on Tuesday.
The government has been holding talks with militants to end
attacks on oil pipelines which cost the country up to $100
billion in lost oil revenues in 2016, Oil Minister Emmanuel Ibe
Kachikwu said in a video on his Facebook page.
But a military crackdown on thousands of illegal refineries
in the southern swamps, which process crude oil stolen from oil
majors and state oil firm NNPC, has raised tensions again.
Illicit refineries process stolen crude in makeshift,
blackened structures of pipes and metal tanks hidden in
oil-soaked clearings deep in the Niger Delta's thick bush land.
"Our approach to that is that we must engage them (illegal
refiners) by establishing modular refineries so that they can
participate in legal refineries," Osinbajo said during a visit
to Rivers state, part of the Delta region.
"We have recognised that young men must be properly
engaged," he said, without giving details.
He also said the government would make more provisions for
an amnesty scheme for former militants who laid down arms in
2009 in exchange for cash stipends and job training.
Illegal refining is one of the few businesses flourishing in
an otherwise desolate region, as petrol is scarce in Nigeria due
to the country's derelict state refineries.
Authorities had originally cut the budget for cash payments
to militants to end corruption but later resumed payments to
stop surging pipeline attacks which cut output by 700,000
barrels a day for several months last year.
"We have to make more provisions for amnesty and provisions
for social intervention," Osinbajo told residents of Port
Harcourt, the region's major city. He has been visiting the
Niger Delta since last month to calm tensions.
The militants and residents who sympathise with them say
they want a greater share of Nigeria's oil wealth to go to the
Crude sales make up about 70 percent of government revenue
and the attacks have deepened an economic crisis brought about
by low global oil prices.
Nigeria's oil production climbed to 1.576 million bpd in
January, roughly 102,000 bpd higher than December, according to
secondary sources in a monthly OPEC report released on Monday
Osinbajo put total oil output last month at between 1.7
million bpd and 1.8 million bpd down from the 2.2 million bpd at
the start of 2016.
(additional reporting by Libby George in London; Writing by Ulf
Laessing; Editing by Alexander Smith and Adrian Croft)