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Houston Chronicle: Tidewater faults security in kidnappings

By JOE CARROLL
Bloomberg News
Tidewater, the world's biggest operator of supply ships for oil drillers, said Friday it removed a boat from a Royal Dutch Shell project in Nigeria after security guards failed to protect the vessel's crew from kidnappers last month.
New Orleans-based Tidewater pulled a supply vessel, the Liberty Service, from an assignment at Shell's EA field off the Nigeria coast because “their security precautions weren't all that good,” said Stephen Dick, a Tidewater executive vice president.
Three Tidewater employees, including a Houston-area resident, boat captain Patrick Landry, and a Shell contractor were kidnapped Jan. 11 by 30 armed militants and held for 19 days. The militants, who demanded the release of an imprisoned former Bayelsa state governor and a militia leader, were unopposed by 14 armed guards from the Nigerian military assigned to protect the vessel, Dick said.
“Shell had armed naval personnel in the field who weren't all that courageous when challenged” by the militants, Dick said. The militants shot out the wheelhouse windows and damaged radar and electrical equipment before departing with the captives, he said.
Bianca Ruakere, a spokeswoman for Shell, said she couldn't comment immediately.
Attacks by militant groups in the oil-rich Niger Delta region have grown more daring in the past two years.
Dick, who flew to the U.S. with Landry after the hostages were released Monday, Jan. 30, said the 61-year-old boat captain appears to be in good health. The kidnapped Tidewater employees, Milko Nichev of Bulgaria and Harry Ebanks of Honduras, also were in good health after their release and have returned home.

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