Eni: All Hostages at Nigeria Oil Flow Station Released

Dow Jones Newswires

LONDON, Nov 20, 2006 (Dow Jones Newswires)

Italian energy giant Eni SpA (E) said Monday that all remaining hostages at a Nigerian crude oil pumping station it operates were released late Sunday and said 50,000 barrels a day in output from the facility will resume shortly after being shut-in early this month after a raid by armed militants.

"Eni informs that the situation has been positively resolved," an Eni spokeswoman said, reading from a company statement. The Tebidada flow station is operated through Eni's subsidiary Agip.

"All personnel are in good health, and production will be restored shortly once the necessary checks have been completed," the spokeswoman said.

The flow station, located in Bayelsa state, was occupied starting Nov. 6 by a group of militants and villagers seeking compensation from the company for oil spills, which occurred after blasts in a nearby Agip pipeline in March and July.

The invasion was the latest in a series of attacks over the past year on oil installations in the volatile Niger Delta, where most of Nigeria's oil is produced.

Around 50 oil workers were detained in the initial takeover of the Tebidada facility. Some of them escaped shortly after the raid. It is believed that around 40 or so were released Sunday, the Eni spokeswoman said, adding she did not know if the facility had sustained any damage during the occupation.

Eni's equity stake in oil output from the facility is about 9,000 barrels a day. Most of the rest is held by Nigeria's state-run company.

Total output in Nigeria, Africa's biggest oil producer, has been cut on average by around 500,000 barrels a day for most of the past 11 months due to attacks by militants seeking greater control of the country's oil resources.

The reduction because of attacks brings Nigeria's typical daily oil production down to around 2.2-2.4 million barrels a day.

All of the expatriate oil workers kidnapped over the past year have been safely released. The captives are usually freed after a ransom is paid by the companies and the government, according to security analysts.

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