ChevronTexaco To Restart Some Nigerian Production

ChevronTexaco said it plans to restart the 23,000 barrels of oil per day it halted earlier this week due to the kidnapping incident.

The company evacuated its Funiwa, Middleton, North Apoi and Pennington flow stations last week after militants in southeast Bayelsa state stormed the offshore oil production facilities on Wednesday and abducted 18 workers for ransom. Nigerian security forces rescued 16 of them on Thursday after more than 24 hours in captivity, while the other two were released on Sunday after regional officials and community leaders intervened.

A company spokesman said ChevronTexaco would restart 10,000 bpd oil production on Tuesday and restore the balance by weekend. "By the end of the week, we should be producing most of the 23,000 bpd shut-in earlier because of this incident," he said.

ChevronTexaco is the third biggest producer in Nigeria. The area has seen an upsurge in violence since March, when ethnic Ijaw militants launched a rebellion against rival groups, oil multinationals and security forces.

The California-based company had halted 140,000 bpd of onshore oil production at Escravos, as a preventive measure to protect employees since political violence erupted in March. The fresh wave of kidnappings could disrupt plans to restart the shut oil facilities.