Royal Dutch Shell Group .com Rotating Header Image

Posts on ‘January 23rd, 2006’

The Scotsman: Inquiry: Oil deaths were avoidable

The deaths of two oil workers on board a North Sea rig were “entirely avoidable”, an inquiry has heard.
A series of failures by oil giant Shell had led to Keith Moncrieff and Sean McCue losing their lives, the Fatal Accident Inquiry (FAI) heard.
Mr Moncrieff, 45, of Invergowrie, near Dundee, and 22-year-old Mr McCue, of Kennoway in Fife, died on a utility leg of the company's Brent Bravo platform on September 11, 2003.
The pair had gone to inspect a temporary repair on a leaking pipe when they were overcome by a release of hydrocarbon gas.
The FAI, which began at Aberdeen Sheriff Court last October, was ordered by Lord Advocate Colin Boyd.
During closing submissions on Monday procurator fiscal Ernest Barbour said: “The deaths on the Brent Bravo of Sean McCue and Keith Moncrieff could and should have been avoided. The tragic events that occurred were entirely avoidable.”
He added that this was due to Shell's failures to follow certain procedures and are “fundamentally flawed thinking” in the system being used.
The inquiry had earlier heard that a temporary patch had been placed on the leaking pipe nearly a year before the incident on the platform.
When Mr Moncrieff and Mr McCue went to inspect it, a broken valve led to the release of up to 2.5 tonnes of gas. “This whole tragedy may have been avoided if the patch had been replaced earlier,” said Mr Barbour.
He added that some workers believed the pipe had only contained “oily water” and that nothing had been done in the past to try and fix the damaged valve despite it having a history of failure in the past. read more

royaldutchshellplc.com and its sister websites royaldutchshellgroup.com, shellenergy.website, shellnazihistory.com, royaldutchshell.website, johndonovan.website, shellnews.net and shell2004.com are all owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia article.

BBC NEWS: Inquiry hears deaths 'avoidable'

The deaths of two oil workers on board a North Sea platform were “entirely avoidable”, an inquiry has heard.
A fatal accident inquiry (FAI) was told that a series of failures by oil giant Shell had led to Keith Moncrieff and Sean McCue losing their lives.
The pair were overcome by a massive gas escape while inspecting a repair on the company's Brent Bravo platform in 2003.
The FAI, which began at Aberdeen Sheriff Court last October, was ordered by Lord Advocate Colin Boyd.
Mr Moncrieff, 45, of Invergowrie, near Dundee, and 22-year-old Mr McCue, of Kennoway in Fife, died on a utility leg of the platform on 11 September.
The oil firm Shell was fined £900,000 following their deaths.
'Flawed thinking'
During closing submissions on Monday, Ernest Barbour, procurator fiscal, said: “The deaths on the Brent Bravo of Sean McCue and Keith Moncrieff could and should have been avoided.
“The tragic events that occurred were entirely avoidable.”
He added that this was due to Shell's failures to follow certain procedures and “fundamentally flawed thinking” in the system being used.
The inquiry had earlier heard that a temporary patch had been placed on the leaking pipe nearly a year before the incident on the platform.
When Mr Moncrieff and Mr McCue went to inspect it, a broken valve led to the release of up to 2.5 tonnes of gas.
“This whole tragedy may have been avoided if the patch had been replaced earlier,” said Mr Barbour.
Mr Barbour said when Mr Moncrieff and Mr McCue went to inspect the patch, the platform had been started up, despite there being knowledge that a number of valves were not operating properly.
Sheriff Colin Harris also heard that since the Brent Bravo deaths there had been changes and improvements in Shell's operating procedures.
This included clear and thorough risk assessments being carried out before beginning work on a hydrocarbon or safety critical line and discouraging any delay in maintenance work. read more

royaldutchshellplc.com and its sister websites royaldutchshellgroup.com, shellenergy.website, shellnazihistory.com, royaldutchshell.website, johndonovan.website, shellnews.net and shell2004.com are all owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia article.

Mail & Guardian Online: Nigerian militants promise to release oil workers

Mail & Guardian Online (South Africa)
Dulue Mbachu
Lagos,
Nigeria
Militants holding four foreign hostages in Nigeria claimed on Sunday they would release the captives soon, according to a statement purportedly from the militant group.
The hostages — an American, a Briton, a Bulgarian and a Honduran — were seized near a Shell oil field on January 11 by a group that also claimed responsibility for other oil industry attacks that have cut Nigerian production by almost 10%.
“We promise that they would soon join their families, hale and hearty enough to tell the true story of a revolution,” the statement e-mailed to The Associated Press (AP) said.
The identity of the e-mail's authors could not be independently confirmed and no name was attached to it. But the statement came from an e-mail address known to be used by the Movement for the Emancipation of the People of the Niger Delta, which has claimed responsibility for a series of recent attacks on the country's oil
industry.
On Saturday, the group's leader told the AP by telephone that American hostage Patrick Landry was sick and warned that if he dies, his group would kill the remaining hostages.
The militants are demanding the release of two imprisoned figureheads of their ethnic Ijaw group and have threatened more attacks on oil facilities. They claim to be fighting for a greater local share of oil wealth they believe is being unfairly snapped up by foreign companies and the federal government.
One day after the four oil workers were seized, a major Shell pipeline leading to its Forcados export terminal was blown up the following day, and more attacks followed in other areas.
Shell — the largest oil producer in Opec member Nigeria — has evacuated hundreds of workers from the Niger delta since the unrest began. The company has cut off production amounting to nearly 10% of Nigeria's crude output.
On Friday, the US State Department called for the release of the four captives, while a British diplomat said his country was pressing Nigeria not to use force to free them.
The militants are demanding the government release militia leader Mujahid Dokubo-Asari and former Bayelsa Governor Diepreye Alamieyeseigha. They are also demanding $1,5-billion in compensation from Shell for alleged environmental
damage.
Dokubo-Asari was jailed in September on treason charges, while Alamieyeseigha faces extradition to Britain, after jumping bail there on charges of money laundering.
The kidnapped workers are employed by two companies contracted by Shell in the delta: Britain's Ecodrill and Tidewater of Louisiana.
Nigeria, Africa's leading oil producer, exports 2,5-million barrels of oil daily and is the fifth-biggest source of United States oil imports.
The crisis, along with concern over the Iranian nuclear dispute and new threats of attacks on the United States by al-Qaeda, has helped push world oil prices up. On Friday, light, sweet crude for February delivery rose 54 cents to $67,35 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange by afternoon in Europe. – Sapa-AP read more

royaldutchshellplc.com and its sister websites royaldutchshellgroup.com, shellenergy.website, shellnazihistory.com, royaldutchshell.website, johndonovan.website, shellnews.net and shell2004.com are all owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia article.

New York Times: Nigerian Militants May Be Split Over Hostage Release

By REUTERS
Published: January 23, 2006
Filed at 2:51 p.m. ET
YENAGOA, Nigeria (Reuters) – Nigerian militants dissociated themselves on Monday from “bounty hunters'' negotiating with authorities for the release of four foreign hostages, raising the possibility of divisions within the group.
Officials had expressed hope the hostages could soon be released after receiving a recent photograph of the oil workers on Sunday from a person they believed was a credible go-between with militants.
Authorities met the representative again on Monday to pursue ransom discussions, a government spokesman said, despite an email from the group to Reuters saying they were not involved in the talks.
“These individuals are making a lot of money from the Nigerian government and oil companies pretending to be in a position to facilitate their release. They are going nowhere. Rather we intend to add to their number,'' the email said.
The government has paid 10 million naira ($77,000) to the group to negotiate the hostages' release, it added.
An ethnic Ijaw activist familiar with the situation said there were two different groups within the militant movement: a politically motivated band responsible for attacks on oil installations and a commercially motivated one holding the hostages.
“At the end of the day the hostages' release could just be about money, but the attacks on the oil facilities will continue,'' he said, asking not to be named.
The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, which said it was a coalition of militant groups in the delta, abducted the workers during a month-long campaign of violence which has cut Nigerian oil output by one tenth and pushed world oil prices to their highest level since September.
Bayelsa State Police Commissioner Hafiz Ringin told Reuters he believed the person claiming to represent the kidnappers was a “genuine contact.''
The photograph provided by this person showed the hostages — an American, a Briton, a Bulgarian and a Honduran — in apparently good health and sporting beards, indicating it was taken recently, diplomats said.
AGIP ATTACK
A group of 10 youths attacked an oil platform operated by Agip, a unit of Italy's ENI, on Monday but were repelled by troops. A security official said one person was killed in the raid, which appeared to be caused by a local dispute over money. Oil output was unaffected.
Unions have threatened to withdraw workers from the restive delta, which produces almost all the nation's 2.4 million barrels per day, if the security situation deteriorates. Dozens of people have been killed in raids and bombings by the militia.
Royal Dutch Shell has cut its production by 210,000 barrels a day and pulled out more than 500 staff. Hundreds of contractors have also fled.
The militant group has insisted that it will not compromise on its demands for the release of two ethnic Ijaw leaders, more local control over oil revenues, and $1.5 billion in pollution compensation to delta villages from Shell.
“We are going ahead with the planned attacks aimed at grounding the Nigerian economy and further hurting the oil companies,'' the group said in am email on Monday.
Its key demand is the release of militant leader Mujahid Dokubo-Asari and former Bayelsa state governor Diepreye Alamieyeseigha.
Alamieyeseigha, impeached last month for money laundering after escaping arrest in Britain, is a political foe of the president and a major scalp in his war on corruption. Asari is on trial for treason after leading a bloody insurgency in 2004.
Industry sources say the political aims of the militants mean attacks may last until elections next year. An uprising before 2003 polls hit 40 percent of Nigeria's oil production. read more

royaldutchshellplc.com and its sister websites royaldutchshellgroup.com, shellenergy.website, shellnazihistory.com, royaldutchshell.website, johndonovan.website, shellnews.net and shell2004.com are all owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia article.

The New York Times: A Country and a Continent, Hanging in the Balance

Letter From Nigeria
By LYDIA POLGREEN
Published: January 23, 2006
ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast, Jan. 21 – The past week was a busy one for Olusegun Obasanjo, the Nigerian president. There he was Monday morning, beaming as Liberia's new president took the oath of office, cementing a peace Mr. Obasanjo had worked to build. And here he was Wednesday, perched on a settee and clasping the hand of the president of Ivory Coast, Laurent Gbagbo, trying to put out the flames engulfing that country as militant youths rampaged against the United Nations and France.
Nigerians protested against a state governor in November in the Niger Delta, a volatile region that has been racked by corruption and violence.
By week's end he was preparing to head to Khartoum for a meeting of the African Union, of which he is the departing chairman, to weigh in on the long list of crises besetting the continent at the moment: brutal warring in the Darfur region of Sudan, political violence in Ethiopia and bellicose posturing between Chad and Sudan, to name a few.
But two crises unlikely to make the agenda in Khartoum are the ones Mr. Obasanjo faces at home: one in the Niger Delta and the other on the country's contentious political scene. Those fraught situations are tearing at the delicate threads that hold together the ethnic and religious crazy quilt of vast, populous Nigeria – about twice the size of California, with a population nearing half that of the United States.
In the always volatile delta, fresh violence from militants seeking more local control over oil wealth has slashed oil production and helped send prices to a four-month high. The militants, from the delta's dominant Ijaw tribe, have attacked pipelines and captured four oil workers, demanding that the government release two of their jailed leaders and $1.5 billion from Shell, Nigeria's biggest oil producer. [On Sunday, a militant group, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, promised more attacks if their leaders were not freed, and threatened in an e-mail message that it could hold the hostages for years, Reuters reported.]
The political crisis has emerged from widespread speculation that Mr. Obasanjo will seek to alter the Constitution in order to run for a third term in 2007, a possibility that Mr. Obasanjo has not ruled out. The crisis has already upset the delicate ethnic and religious balance in national politics, with each group staking a what it believes is an ironclad right to claim the presidency. Nigeria, despite its history of dictatorial military rule within its borders, has long been an enforcer and guarantor of democracy in Africa, a role that Mr. Obasanjo has expanded.
Its troubles come at a time when the stakes for Africa could not be higher. With crucial elections scheduled in many countries this year and next, including Congo, Uganda, Ivory Coast and Nigeria, the fulcrum between democracy and good governance and autocracy and tyranny could shift significantly.
And so the prospect of new ferment in Nigeria could reverberate with deep and lasting impact.
Nigeria's Nobel laureate and longtime pro-democracy agitator, Wole Soyinka, recently declared that he and his fellow activists must prepare to head “back to the trenches” of the struggle, so grave is the current threat.
“Even the incurable optimists, as some of us are, are deeply worried,” said Kayode Fayemi, director of the Center for Democracy and Development in Nigeria, a political scientist and longtime pro-democracy activist. “Six years down the line in the attempt to build democracy this is what we get: violence in the land, and a government in breach. The only thing happening is politics. It is motion without movement.”
Political violence of the type that preceded the country's elections in 1999 and 2003 appears to be on the rise as well. The wife of a prominent northern politician was found stabbed to death in her home. Nothing was taken from the house, according to Nigerian newspaper reports, leading many to conclude that her killing was a warning to her husband, Abubakar Rimi, a crucial member of a coalition of powerful northerners opposed to any extension of Mr. Obasanjo's rule.
Nigeria's vice president, Atiku Abubakar, a former general and northerner, would like to succeed Mr. Obasanjo, but the president has made it clear that he opposes that, and a deepening political row in the governing party has broken out over the succession question.
In the complex ethnic politics of Nigeria, factions have emerged in the People's Democratic Party urging that the presidency shift to a different ethnic group. Ruled for most of its history by Muslim generals from the north, Nigerians in the South-South, as the Niger Delta is known, say it is their turn, while northerners say that after two terms of Mr. Obasanjo, a Yoruba Christian from the southwest, they should get the presidency again.
The two crises are not entirely separate. The political confusion has created the space for delta militants seeking more local control over oil wealth to seize the national stage. Attacks on oil facilities and kidnappings have long been used to extort jobs, development projects and cash from oil companies, but the latest violence appears to be political in nature and pure sabotage, a worrying development, according to Sebastian Spio-Garbrah, an analyst at the Eurasia Group, a private research firm.
Taken together, these situations pose a huge challenge for Nigeria as it enters a period of great uncertainty. Indeed, nearly 46 years after its independence, a period in which the country seesawed between civilian and military rule, the unity of Nigeria is still by no means assured. Though it is undoubtedly among the most powerful, wealthy and influential African nations – South Africa is its only serious rival in this regard – it has always struggled to make sense of its volatile mix of cultures, languages, religions and even landscapes. In its awesome diversity, it is the whole of Africa in microcosm.
“Nigerian unity is only a British invention,” said the northern politician Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, in 1948, 12 years before independence made him Nigeria's first federal prime minister.
Of course a lot of water has passed under the bridge since then. The searing experience of the Biafran War, a brutal conflict in which Mr. Obasanjo played a crucial role in ending as a junior army officer, has long given Nigerians contemplating secession pause. And the discovery of oil in the 1950's in the delta has given Nigeria an economic logic for unity for decades.
Still, a report on the future of sub-Saharan Africa published by the National Intelligence Council, a government think tank for the United States intelligence services, after a conference on the topic last March, identified the collapse of Nigeria as the most important risk facing Africa today.
“While currently Nigeria's leaders are locked in a bad marriage that all dislike but dare not leave, there are possibilities that could disrupt the precarious equilibrium in Abuja,” the report said. “If Nigeria were to become a failed state, it could drag down a large part of the West African region.”
“Further,” it continued, “a failed Nigeria probably could not be reconstituted for many years – if ever – and not without massive international assistance.”
Nevertheless, Nigeria has along history of ferment, but also a long history of pragmatism that has kept it together despite its troubles.
“This is a very critical moment for Nigeria,” Mr. Fayemi said. “But we have a history of going to the edge, then pulling back from the brink.” read more

royaldutchshellplc.com and its sister websites royaldutchshellgroup.com, shellenergy.website, shellnazihistory.com, royaldutchshell.website, johndonovan.website, shellnews.net and shell2004.com are all owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia article.

Houston Chronicle: Nigerian militants say hostages will be freed soon

E-mail gives son of a captive from Houston area renewed hope
Associated Press
LAGOS, NIGERIA – Militants holding four foreign hostages in Nigeria claimed Sunday they would release the captives soon, according to a statement purportedly from the militant group.
The hostages — a Houston-area man, a Briton, a Bulgarian and a Honduran — were seized near a Shell oil field on Jan. 11 by a group that also claimed responsibility for other oil industry attacks that have cut Nigerian production by almost 10 percent.
“We promise that they would soon join their families, hale and hearty enough to tell the true story of a revolution,” the statement e-mailed to the Associated Press said.
The statement came from an e-mail address known to be used by the Movement for the Emancipation of the People of the Niger Delta, which has claimed responsibility for attacks on the country's oil industry.
On Saturday, the group's leader said that the American hostage, Patrick Landry, was sick and warned that if he dies, his group would kill the remaining hostages.
Landry's son, Dwight, said Sunday he had seen a recent picture of his father and the other hostages and believed all were still alive.
Landry said he was encouraged by the group's apparent pledge to release his father.
“I certainly hope that's the case,” he said.
The militants are demanding the release of two imprisoned figureheads of their ethnic Ijaw group and have threatened more attacks on oil facilities. read more

royaldutchshellplc.com and its sister websites royaldutchshellgroup.com, shellenergy.website, shellnazihistory.com, royaldutchshell.website, johndonovan.website, shellnews.net and shell2004.com are all owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia article.

THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: Oil Sector's Next Big Test: 2006

Strong Profits Again Expected,
But Challenges Await Industry;
Dodging Capitol Hill's Bullet
By JEFFREY BALL
Staff Reporter of THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
January 23, 2006; Page C1
How long will the gusher last?
Most oil companies are likely to shatter records when they post fourth-quarter earnings over the next several days. But the market already is looking beyond those results to the challenges the industry will face trying to maintain its boom.
Those are many. There is the difficulty of repeating last year's stellar rate of earnings growth given that oil prices, though they jumped last week on fears about potential supply disruptions in Iran and Nigeria, aren't expected to achieve the percentage gains in 2006 that they did in 2005.
There also is the possibility of renewed pressure in Washington for higher taxes on industry profits as this year's midterm congressional elections approach.
And there is the continuing challenge of finding enough new oil and natural gas to replenish what the industry is pumping out of the ground.
Other industries, of course, would love the oil patch's problems. Last year, riding soaring oil and natural-gas prices, the Dow Jones Oil & Gas Index racked up a 32% return, more than seven times the return of the Dow Jones U.S. Total Market Index and more than double the return of any other industry-specific Dow Jones index.
Some sectors within the energy industry — notably dedicated refiners, which turn crude oil into finished products like gasoline and heating oil — saw their stock prices more than double, partially because last year's hurricanes knocked out much of the nation's refining capacity, sending the market prices of those finished products soaring.
Moreover, though the high prices prompted much consumer bellyaching, they didn't meaningfully damp consumption. U.S. gasoline demand slipped below year-earlier levels when pump prices spiked immediately following the hurricanes, but now it is back above year-earlier levels, according to the Energy Information Administration.
ConocoPhillips is scheduled to kick off the major oil companies' fourth-quarter reporting when it releases its results Wednesday. Fadel Gheit, oil analyst at Oppenheimer & Co., sees average fourth-quarter earnings gains of 25% for the major international oil companies, 86% for the smaller firms that focus on exploration and production, and more than a doubling for refiners. Mr. Gheit owns stock in Exxon Mobil Corp., BP PLC, Royal Dutch Shell PLC, Chevron Corp., ConocoPhillips and Devon Energy Corp. Oppenheimer doesn't have investment-banking relationships with oil companies.
As for 2006, it is likely to be another good year for the energy industry, though probably not as good as 2005. The administration predicts that the price of West Texas Intermediate crude oil this year will average $63.27 a barrel. That would mark a 12% rise from last year's average price. While that is a significant jump, it is nothing like the 36.3% price surge in 2005 over 2004. Even if concerns about possible supply disruptions push crude prices this year higher than the EIA predicts, that jump would have to be significant to match the price surge that the oil industry enjoyed in 2005 over 2004.
For natural gas, the EIA forecasts an average residential price this year of $14.57 per thousand cubic feet, up 14.5% from last year, a bit weaker than the 18.6% price jump in 2005 over 2004.
According to Oppenheimer's Mr. Gheit, annual 2006 earnings are expected to jump 7% for the majors, 30% for the exploration-and-production independents and 10% for the refiners.
An industry sector worth watching will be refining. Analysts expect that refining profit margins generally declined in the fourth quarter from soaring third-quarter levels, but they also predict strong refining margins in the coming year, particularly as new federal regulations requiring cleaner fuel take effect.
One wild card is what happens on Capitol Hill. In November, after oil companies reported record posthurricane earnings, Congress held hearings on whether to restore a “windfall-profits” tax on the industry and called oil executives to testify in front of television cameras. Most of those proposals have faded away, but not all.
Still on the table are two provisions that would effectively raise the tax bills primarily of five major oil companies: Exxon, Chevron, BP, Shell and ConocoPhillips. The provisions have passed the Senate but not the House. One would reduce the companies' ability to trim their tax bills through a longstanding inventory-accounting method known as “last-in, first-out,” which ties the cost of goods sold to the cost of the most-recent purchases. The other would prohibit the oil companies from continuing to claim credits against their U.S. tax bills for the taxes they pay in certain oil-rich countries where they operate.
Kenneth Cohen, Exxon's vice president for public affairs, says the company sees the tax proposals as a “serious” threat. Exxon says today's high oil prices are based on market factors beyond the company's control, and the company isn't trying to take advantage of consumers.
Despite the industry's expressions of concern, many analysts say such anti-oil legislation has little chance of becoming law. Oil companies “pretty much have dodged the bullet. Most of the political rhetoric in Washington has died down,” says Jennifer Rowland, oil analyst at J.P. Morgan. She doubts the House will endorse the Senate-approved tax provisions targeted at the oil industry. Ms. Rowland doesn't own stock in any of the companies she covers. J.P. Morgan has investment-banking relationships with Exxon, Chevron and several other oil companies.
Longer term, perhaps the biggest issue facing the energy industry is its increasing difficulty finding enough new fossil fuel each year to replace what it is producing. In 2004, several oil companies failed to book enough new “proved reserves” to replenish the oil and natural gas they produced, at least according to the reserves-accounting method favored by the Securities and Exchange Commission. The oil industry, arguing the SEC's accounting method is too pessimistic, is trying to persuade the SEC to change its method.
Oil companies typically report their reserve-replacement ratios in the weeks following their fourth-quarter earnings reports. Generally, smaller companies find replacing their reserves easier than bigger companies, because they have a lower annual production level that they have to cover.
Write to Jeffrey Ball at [email protected] read more

royaldutchshellplc.com and its sister websites royaldutchshellgroup.com, shellenergy.website, shellnazihistory.com, royaldutchshell.website, johndonovan.website, shellnews.net and shell2004.com are all owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia article.

The New York Times: Nigerian Militants Say Will Free Workers

By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published: January 22, 2006
Filed at 6:55 p.m. ET
LAGOS, Nigeria (AP) — Militants holding four foreign hostages in Nigeria claimed Sunday they would release the captives soon, according to a statement purportedly from the militant group.
The hostages — an American, a Briton, a Bulgarian and a Honduran — were seized near a Shell oil field on Jan. 11 by a group that also claimed responsibility for other oil industry attacks that have cut Nigerian production by almost 10 percent.
''We promise that they would soon join their families, hale and hearty enough to tell the true story of a revolution,'' the statement e-mailed to The Associated Press said.
The identity of the e-mail's authors could not be independently confirmed and no name was attached to it. But the statement came from an e-mail address known to be used by the Movement for the Emancipation of the People of the Niger Delta, which has claimed responsibility for a series of recent attacks on the country's oil industry.
On Saturday, the group's leader told the AP by telephone that the American hostage, Patrick Landry, was sick and warned that if he dies, his group would kill the remaining hostages.
Landry's son, Dwight, said Sunday he had not heard of any new developments, but said he had seen a recent picture of his father and the other hostages and believed they were all still alive.
Landry said he was encouraged by the group's apparent pledge to release his father.
''I certainly hope that's the case,'' he said.
The militants are demanding the release of two imprisoned figureheads of their ethnic Ijaw group and have threatened more attacks on oil facilities. They claim to be fighting for a greater local share of oil wealth they believe is being unfairly snapped up by foreign companies and the federal government.
The kidnapped workers are employed by two companies contracted by Shell in the delta: Britain's Ecodrill and Tidewater of Louisiana.
The crisis, along with concern over the Iranian nuclear dispute and new threats of attacks on the United States by al-Qaida, has helped push world oil prices up.
Associated Press writer Jessica Bujol contributed to this report from New Orleans. read more

royaldutchshellplc.com and its sister websites royaldutchshellgroup.com, shellenergy.website, shellnazihistory.com, royaldutchshell.website, johndonovan.website, shellnews.net and shell2004.com are all owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia article.

The New York Times: Crude Oil Prices Rise to $69 a Barrel

By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published: January 23, 2006
Filed at 12:13 a.m. ET
SINGAPORE (AP) — Oil prices rose to open the week above $69 a barrel on supply fears linked to Iran's tense diplomatic standoff with the West over its nuclear ambitions and continuing labor unrest in oil-rich Nigeria.
Light, sweet crude for March delivery rose 57 cents to $69.05 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract on Friday jumped $1.52 to settle at $68.35 a barrel, the highest closing price since Sept. 1, just days after Hurricane Katrina made landfall.
Crude oil prices are nearing the record high of $70.85 a barrel on Aug. 30.
Nymex February heating oil gained 1.28 cents to $1.8800 a gallon while gasoline rose 1.15 cents to $1.8285 a gallon.
Analysts said market participants were concerned Iran's dispute with the West over the restarting of its nuclear program could lead to supply disruptions in the second-largest oil producer within the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, or OPEC.
Such geopolitical worries, which have driven crude oil prices up at a time when global petroleum demand is high and the emergency supply cushion is thin, have overshadowed rising oil inventories and mild winter weather in the United States — factors that would normally depress prices.
''Participants are making the calculations that these elements (rising inventories and mild weather) must recede in importance as the potential for supply disruption increases, and demand, in the absence of widespread economic contractions, will be high enough to strain the world's capacity to meet it,'' said John Kilduff, an analyst at brokerage Fimat USA, in a note to clients.
Iran exports roughly 2.5 million barrels per day — 1 million barrels more than current excess production capacity worldwide.
After Iran broke U.N. seals at a uranium enrichment plant and said it was resuming nuclear research after a two-year freeze, the Europeans on Jan. 12 declared talks at a dead end and called for Iran's referral to the U.N. Security Council.
The International Atomic Energy Agency's board of governors will meet Feb. 2 to discuss whether to refer Iran to the Security Council.
''The geopolitical drama over Iran and Nigeria is sending oil prices upwards,'' said energy analyst Victor Shum of Purvin & Gertz in Singapore. ''But Nigeria is more problematic in the short term, because it has actually disrupted supply.''
In Nigeria, militants holding four foreign hostages claimed Sunday they would release the captives soon, according to a statement purportedly from the militant group.
The hostages — an American, a Briton, a Bulgarian and a Honduran — were seized near a Shell oil field on Jan. 11 by a group that also claimed responsibility for other oil industry attacks that have cut Nigerian production by almost 10 percent.
Natural gas fell 2.67 cents to $9.085 per 1,000 cubic feet. read more

royaldutchshellplc.com and its sister websites royaldutchshellgroup.com, shellenergy.website, shellnazihistory.com, royaldutchshell.website, johndonovan.website, shellnews.net and shell2004.com are all owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia article.

AP Worldstream: Nigerian militants say will release kidnapped oil workers soon

BY DULUE MBACHU
Militants holding four foreign hostages in Nigeria claimed Sunday they would release the captives soon, according to a statement purportedly from the militant group.
The hostages _ an American, a Briton, a Bulgarian and a Honduran _ were seized near a Shell oil field on Jan. 11 by a group that also claimed responsibility for other oil industry attacks that have cut Nigerian production by almost 10 percent.
“We promise that they would soon join their families, hale and hearty enough to tell the true story of a revolution,” the statement e-mailed to The Associated Press said.
The identity of the e-mail's authors could not be independently confirmed and no name was attached to it. But the statement came from an e-mail address known to be used by the Movement for the Emancipation of the People of the Niger Delta, which has claimed responsibility for a serious of recent attacks on the country's oil industry.
On Saturday, the group's leader told the AP by telephone that American hostage Patrick Landry was sick and warned that if he dies, his group would kill the remaining hostages.
The militants are demanding the release of two imprisoned figureheads of their ethnic Ijaw group and have threatened more attacks on oil facilities. They claim to be fighting for a greater local share of oil wealth they believe is being unfairly snapped up by foreign companies and the federal government.
One day after the four oil workers were seized, a major Shell pipeline leading to its Forcados export terminal was blown up the following day, and more attacks followed in other areas.
Shell _ the largest oil producer in OPEC member Nigeria _ has evacuated hundreds of workers from the Niger delta since the unrest began. The company has cut off production amounting to nearly 10 percent of Nigeria's crude output.
On Friday, the U.S. State Department called for the release of the four captives, while a British diplomat said his country was pressing Nigeria not to use force to free them.
The militants are demanding the government release militia leader Mujahid Dokubo-Asari and former Bayelsa Governor Diepreye Alamieyeseigha. They are also demanding US$1.5 billion (A1.2 million) in compensation from Shell for alleged environmental damage.
Dokubo-Asari was jailed in September on treason charges, while Alamieyeseigha faces extradition to Britain, after jumping bail there on charges of money laundering.
The kidnapped workers are employed by two companies contracted by Shell in the delta: Britain's Ecodrill and Tidewater of Louisiana.
Nigeria, Africa's leading oil producer, exports 2.5 million barrels of oil daily and is the fifth-biggest source of U.S. oil imports.
The crisis, along with concern over the Iranian nuclear dispute and new threats of attacks on the United States by al-Qaida, has helped push world oil prices up. On Friday, light, sweet crude for February delivery rose 54 cents (A0.45) to US$67.35 (A55.81) a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange by afternoon in Europe. read more

royaldutchshellplc.com and its sister websites royaldutchshellgroup.com, shellenergy.website, shellnazihistory.com, royaldutchshell.website, johndonovan.website, shellnews.net and shell2004.com are all owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia article.
%d bloggers like this: