Royal Dutch Shell suffered another major setback in Nigeria,
Africa's top oil producer, as four workers were abducted and a
pipeline demolished in the country's restive oil-producing region
in the south.
Company spokesmen said it had been force to cut production of
some 226,000 barrels of oil as a result of the incidents, as world
oil prices climbed a dollar to a three-month high on Thursday.
The kidnapping occurred on Wednesday afternoon when armed men,
riding in three boats, stormed a vessel servicing a Shell-operated
oil field offshore Nigeria's southern coast, forcing it to shut the
120,000 barrels of oil per day platform.
"We can confirm that four persons were abducted from a support
vessel in SNEPCO (Shell's subsidiary in Nigeria) operated EA
shallow offshore field by armed men who arrived in three boats at
about 15:55 (GMT 14:55) yesterday," a Shell spokesman told
"No fatalities were reported during the incident although one of
the abducted persons sustained injuries. No grievances or demands
have so far been made to SNEPCO or the service companies," said the
Non-essential service personnel on the field's floating
production storage and offloading vessel, the Sea Eagle, which is
moored some 16 km offshore in water depths of about 25 meters, have
been evacuated in line with emergency response procedures, he
And on Thursday evening, the spokesman said the whereabouts of
workers, a Honduran, a Bulgarian, a Briton and an American,
remained unknown. "We are yet to find them, the authorities are
working on the case," he said.
Also on Wednesday, a pipeline operated by Shell in southern
Nigeria was attacked by unidentified persons and currently the
company was making efforts to repair it, another Shell spokesman
"The pipeline in Bayelsa state was vandalized on Wednesday by
unknown persons but it's not an explosion. Some 106,000 barrels of
oil were affected," said the spokesman.
The incidents came a week after Shell lifted the suspension of
crude oil export from the west African country following a pipeline
explosion that had initially cut production by 180,000 barrels per
day in December.
Nigeria is the biggest oil producer in Africa with a daily
output of 2.5 million barrels, while Shell accounts for half of the
country's oil production, but the situation in the country's oil
regions in the south is turbulent.
Local villagers frequently shut off oil wells, kidnap oil
workers or commit other forms of violence to blackmail companies
operating in the oil fields as they accuse the oil firms of not
doing anything to develop the impoverished area.
(Xinhua News Agency January 13, 2006)