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Associated Press: Attackers occupy Nigerian Shell oil facility: 60 Shell workers held

October 10, 2006

LAGOS, Nigeria (AP) — Attackers overran a Nigerian navy base early Tuesday and occupied a nearby oil facility belonging to a subsidiary of Royal Dutch Shell PLC, taking several troops hostage, a police official said. A spokesman for the company said about 60 Nigerian oil workers also were being held.

No deaths have been reported, said Hafiz Ringim, police commissioner for Nigeria’s southern Bayelsa state. Ringim said the attackers were armed with assault rifles.

Bisi Ojediran, a spokesman for a subsidiary of Shell, said that around 12,000 barrels of production per day had been shut down as a result. He said around 60 staff members lived on the facility, which he described as a combination of a logistics base and oil pipeline hub.

“Some of our staff may have left at the time of the attack,” he said. “We have been able to speak to them, and everyone is OK but they are not able to leave.”

He would not comment on the identity of the attackers or their motives.

“Negotiations are the government’s responsibility,” he said.

Ringim said a delegation had been sent to negotiate with the attackers. He did not say how many troops were taken hostage or how many attackers were involved.

A series of attacks and kidnappings in Africa’s largest oil producer have cut Nigeria’s production by more than a quarter so far this year.

Despite the Niger delta’s massive energy resources, the vast majority of the region’s people are mired in extreme poverty. Some say kidnappings and attacks that grab international attention are some of the only tools available to them to take their rightful share of the wealth.

More than two dozen foreign oil workers have been kidnapped this year. Hostage takings generally end peacefully, with the targets returned unharmed.

Groups have also sabotaged pipelines and oil installations in the West African country, the fifth-largest supplier of crude to the United States.

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