Chopper Evacuating Shell Staff Comes Under Fire in Nigeria

Wednesday afternoon a helicopter evacuating Shell employees from its Escravos terminals came under fire from Nigerian militants. The helicopter managed to take everyone to safety and is now undergoing maintenance and safety checks. The area around the Niger Delta has been facing increasing unrest from tribes in the area. This unrest is due in part to the upcoming presidential elections since one of the campaign issues deals with revenue sharing from foreign oil companies.

Both Shell and ChevronTexaco have been evacuating their workers to safety. ChevronTexaco has not shut in any production yet, however, Shell has closed five flow stations resulting in a loss of 76,000 barrels per day of production.

Much of the civil unrest is between rival tribes jostling for amenities such as roads and hospitals provided by oil firms. But oil companies have also been caught in a campaign by militant communities demanding a bigger share of Nigeria's oil wealth. Militants have kidnapped local and foreign oil workers for ransom and forcefully shut down oil production facilities. It is believed that the authorities will deploy military force in the area later on Wednesday to bring the civil unrest under control.