Chevron Says Hit by Two Separate Nigeria Militant Attacks

LONDON May 09, 2007 (Dow Jones Newswires)

U.S. oil major Chevron Corp. (CVX) on Wednesday said four foreign contractors working for the company were abducted Tuesday evening following one of two attacks by militants on offshore oil barges.

The abducted contractors are believed to be employees of Global Marine Systems, a U.K.-based company, a Chevron spokesman said. Workers of Sea Trucks Group, a Nigerian-headquartered company, were assaulted in a second incident but none are not believed to have been kidnapped.

All the workers were working for Chevron, said the Chevron spokesman, who added that no oil production was affected by the two attacks which follow several others over the past week.

A Chevron statement said the four kidnapped expatriate workers are U.S citizens. Preliminary assessments indicated the two attacks weren't related and that one of assaults was conducted by individuals intent on robbery, Chevron said.

The assaults follow a barrage of attacks the past week by militants and criminals who have abducted several foreign oil workers and blasted pipelines and other oil infrastructure, forcing the shut-in of oil production and pushing world oil prices higher.

The attacks have been conducted mainly by the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, or MEND, which is bent on gaining control of local oil resources.

The group has pledged to try to embarrass outgoing Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo and send a message to incoming President Umaru Yar'Ardua to deal better with the long festering poverty and other social problems of the Niger Delta, where most of the country's oil is produced. Yar'Ardua will be inaugurated May 29.

MEND is also demanding the release of some of its leaders who have been jailed by the Nigerian government for over a year on treason and corruption charges.

Chevron has suffered four attacks, including the two Tuesday, against its operations in Nigeria the past week. Several of its own workers were abducted last week, and the company has shut-in a combined 57,000 barrels per day of oil production due to attacks on its facilities.

A total of almost 750,000 barrels a day, or 30% of Nigeria's effective crude production capacity, is estimated to be out of service, according to a Dow Jones Newswires' estimate.

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