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UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
13 January 2006

NIGERIA: Explosion, abductions force cut in oil production

PORT HARCOURT, 13 Jan 2006 (IRIN) - New unrest in the oil-rich Niger Delta region - the abduction of four foreign oil workers and a pipeline explosion hours later - have led to a 10-percent cut in daily oil production in Nigeria.

Government officials on Friday announced the hostages and their captors had been spotted on a vessel at sea, two days after the kidnapping.

“We’ve located the boat, we know the position,” Navy Chief of Staff Ganiyu Adekeye told reporters.

Unidentified gunmen on Wednesday invaded an offshore oil platform operated by multinational Royal Dutch Shell and abducted the oil workers - an American, a Briton, a Bulgarian and a Honduran - military officials in the region said.

Shell - which operates the EA oil platform in shallow waters off the Niger Delta coast where the oil workers were seized - said it had stopped the pumping of 120,000 barrels of crude oil produced there daily due to insecurity.

Hours after the kidnappings, an explosion ruptured a pipeline transporting crude oil to Shell’s Forcados export terminal, leading the company to cut another 106,000 barrels for a total daily loss of 226,000.

“We suspect the explosion was caused by sabotage though we’re not sure if it’s linked to the attack on the EA field,” a senior company official in Lagos told IRIN.

Shell controls half of Nigeria’s 2 million barrels per day output that makes it the largest oil producer in Africa. Kidnappings and sabotage are common in the volatile delta region, where militias have taken up arms against what they call injustice against the local population.

Shell on Friday began implementing loading delays for ships scheduled to lift oil at the Forcados terminal, saying there would be shipping deferments of three or four days.

In December an attack on another key pipeline similarly forced the company to suspend export of large quantities of crude oil from its Bonny oil export terminal for two weeks.

Tensions have been particularly high in the delta since the Nigerian government arrested the region’s most influential militia leader, Moujahid Dokubo-Asari, in September and charged him with treason. He is currently in custody awaiting trial.

Dokubo was charged after saying in a newspaper interview he would fight for the disintegration of Nigeria.

Dokubo’s Niger Delta People’s Volunteer Force has taken up arms to fight for the interests of the region's majority Ijaw ethnic group, alleging that successive governments have cheated their impoverished communities of the oil wealth produced on their land.

No group has claimed responsibility these week’s incidents.



This material comes to you via IRIN, a UN humanitarian information unit, but May not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations or its agencies. If you re-print, copy, archive or re-post this item, please retain this credit and disclaimer. Quotations or extracts should include attribution to the original sources. All materials copyright © UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs 2006

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