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Royal Dutch Shell Plc .com: Nigerian police say foreign oil worker kidnapped from Shell gas plant

From AP Worldstream
By: WILLIAM NSOYOH,
Published: Jul 07, 2006

YENAGOA, Nigeria _ Armed men have kidnapped a Dutch oil worker in Nigeria’s chaotic southern delta, police said, the second hostage-taking in less than a day in a region where regular raids continue to destabilize oil production.

Nigerian police said the assailants arrived Thursday at the Shell plant in speedboats and kidnapped a Dutch employee of Westminster Dredging, a contractor to Royal Dutch Shell PLC.

A Shell spokesman in Nigeria, Bisi Ojediran, confirmed that “an expatriate was abducted in a community incident” at Gbaran, outside the regional capital of Yenagoa. He said he didn’t have details of his nationality.

Ojediran said a group of local people had mounted a protest march in Gbaran earlier Thursday to demand jobs, roads and schools for their community.

“While this was going, some men in military uniform went to the project site and took the expatriate,” Ojediran said.

Kidnappings in the restive and impoverished Niger Delta have been common in recent months, with militants using the hostages to bargain for a greater share of the wealth from Africa’s largest crude producer.

Late Wednesday, a group of gunmen raided an offshore oil rig and seized a security guard as they retreated, according to the Nigerian navy.

Hafiz Ringim, police commissioner for Bayelsa state where Thursday’s kidnapping occurred, did not say whether there was any connection between the two incidents. Ringim said several teenagers who were involved in planning the Thursday protest were arrested in connection with the kidnapping and were being questioned.

The attackers on Wednesday forced their way onto a rig drilling for Nigerian company Consolidated Oil and kidnapped a retired navy officer working as a security guard, said navy spokesman Captain Obiora Medani.

Medani said the rig attackers told Consolidated Oil that they came from nearby Sangana community. The group is accusing the oil firm of not meeting the terms of an agreement to help provide them with jobs and local amenities, he said.

Officials of Consolidated Oil declined to comment.

Attacks on oil pipelines and kidnappings, many of them by the largest militant group _ Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger delta _ have cut Nigerian oil production by more than 20 percent this year, adding to the upward pressure on world prices.

Some groups have asked for money and others for freedom for imprisoned comrades. Most of the kidnappings have ended peacefully.

Associated Press Writer Dulue Mbachu contributed to this report from Lagos, Nigeria.

Copyright 2006 Associated Press

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