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THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: Baker Hughes Employee Killed In Nigeria as Unrest Continues

Baker Hughes Employee Killed
In Nigeria as Unrest Continues

DOW JONES NEWSWIRESMay 10, 2006 6:20 p.m.

LONDON — An expatriate employee of U.S. oil services company Baker Hughes Inc. was shot and killed in Nigeria on Wednesday, a company spokesman said in what is the  the latest wave of militant ubroke out in Nigeria six months ago.

“This morning, I can confirm, that an employee of ours was shot and killed today in Port Harcourt,” Baker Hughes spokesman Gene Shiels told Dow Jones Newswires, referring to the Nigerian oil city in the southern Nigeria.

Mr. Shiels, speaking by telephone from Houston where the company is based, said the name and details of the employee weren't being released until the victim's family had been notified.

Mr. Shiels could not say whether the victim was permanently based in Nigeria and described the victim as an expatriate. The employee was on his way to work when the attack occurred, Mr. Shiels added.

The BBC reported earlier on its Web site that the victim was a U.S. national and was shot by attackers on a motorbike as he was driving his car.

A spokesman for the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta said in an email to the Associated Press that the group wasn't responsible for the slaying.

The death comes after months of unrest in the Niger Delta, where most of Nigeria's oil is produced, in which militants fighting more control of the area's oil resources have attacked foreign oil companies' facilities and kidnapped several foreign oil workers, all of whom were later released unharmed.

MEND, which has been behind nearly all of the attacks in recent months, warned this week that it would launch new assaults targeting oil facilities and individuals. MEND didn't elaborate on who it would target, but foreign oil companies and foreign oil workers have been the group's targets in the past.

The group, a coalition of disparate groups, took responsibility for kidnapping several foreign oil workers earlier this year. Those workers were later released unharmed.

MEND has rejected talk of a ceasefire with the government and has pledged to continue launching attacks until its demands are met. The group, affiliated with the ethnic Ijaw group that dominates the Niger Delta, has said steadfastly it won't stop its attacks until the government addresses its biggest demands.

These include greater control of the oil resources in the delta, where most of the region's 20 million people live in poverty, and the release of two Ijaw leaders jailed on treason and money-laundering charges.

The group is also demanding $1.5 billion in compensation from oil major Royal Dutch Shell PLC for environment damage it says was caused by the company. Shell has rejected the charges.

The killing Wednesday follows two car bomb attacks in recent weeks and protests at the Qua Iboe oil export terminal run by ExxonMobil, the world's biggest oil company.

Several Nigerian troops and some civilians have been killed in the past months' attacks, which have cut about a fifth of Nigeria's typical daily production of 2.4 million barrels a day.

Shell, which has borne the brunt of the attacks on oil facilities, has said it will not restart its shut-in oil production until it is safe to do so. The company's direct share of the shut-in production is about 165,000 barrels a day.

Write to Dow Jones Newswires editors at [email protected]

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