Shell Confirms Armed Attack on Nigeria Oil Facility

LONDON, Nov 15, 2006 (Dow Jones Newswires)

Royal Dutch Shell PLC (RDSA) Wednesday said armed gunmen attacked a southern Nigeria oil facility, confirming earlier local police reports.

A London-based spokeswoman said armed gunmen attacked the Nun River Logistics base in Bayelsa State in the oil-rich Niger Delta in the early hours of Wednesday. The facility is run by Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria.

The logistics base is attached to the Nun River Flow Station, but there were no further details as to whether the attack had affected production or exports at Nun River or the nearby Oporoma Flow Station, the spokeswoman said.

Staff had already been evacuated from the Nun River logistics base in mid-October following an earlier attack that also shut in oil shipments through the Nun River Flow Station.

However, SPDC resumed flows through the station later in October after militants vacated the facility.

According to Hafiz Ringim, police commissioner for Bayelsa state, 11 men attacked the Oporoma station in an attempt to shut down the facility.

He told the AP that naval forces pushed back the men, and two of the assailants were killed in the fighting and one was captured.

The captured attacker told police the group mounted the assault to recover the balance of a ransom that wasn't fully paid after a hostage-taking last month.

It wasn't immediately clear what kidnapping incident the attacker was referring to. More than 60 foreigners have been kidnapped in Africa's largest oil producer since the beginning of the year, and several times that number of Nigerians. Hostage-taking has become increasingly common in Nigeria's oil-rich Niger Delta, where the majority of people live in grinding poverty.

Oil pipelines and pumping stations run by Shell, the biggest international oil company in Nigeria, have borne the brunt of militant attacks in the past year.

The assaults, which have been accompanied by at least 20 separate abductions of foreign oil workers, have shut-in at least 500,000 b/d of oil production at any given time since February. Nigeria produces between 2.2 million and 2.4 million b/d.

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