26 May 2007 - 10:39
  • News Code: 105524

LOS ANGELES -- Nigeria"s ability to defend international oil operations came under scrutiny again May 25 when local militants kidnapped six foreign oil workers—including three Americans—from a pipelaying ship owned by Texas-based Transcoastal Corp. under contract to Nigeria"s Conoil.

Shots were fired during the abduction, which occurred off the coast of the Niger Delta near the Brass oil export terminal. According to industry sources, the Americans, two British citizens, and one South African were abducted by the militants who used two speed boats in the attack.


The attack on the Transcoastal ship follows earlier warnings about the increase of piracy off the coast of Nigeria. In April the International Maritime Bureau said that oil tankers and installations off Nigeria continue to be a main target of pirate attacks, despite a downward trend elsewhere around the globe (OGJ Online, Apr. 30, 2007).


Coming just a day after gunmen kidnapped a Polish engineer near Warri, the Brass raid brings the number of hostages now held by militants to 22. The upsurge in violence over the past 18 months continues to depress production by nearly 1 million b/d, or 25%.


On May 15 Royal Dutch Shell PLC said it had been forced to cut 170,000 b/d of oil production after villagers demanding money occupied a major pipeline, bringing the total shut down through unrest, sabotage, and militant action to 980,000 b/d, nearly a third of Nigeria"s 3 million b/d capacity.


The Shell shutdown is apparently unrelated to raids by the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta that took place earlier in May. At the time, Chevron shut down 15,000 b/d of oil production after one Nigerian sailor was killed and six foreign oil workers were kidnapped by members of MEND, who May 1 attacked the company"s Oloibiri floating production, storage, and offloading vessel off southern Bayelsa state.



News Code 105524

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