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Reuters: Trico confirms 4 Niger Delta hostages safely released

EXTRACT: Those attacks forced Royal Dutch Shell to shut about 500,000 barrels per day of oil production, almost a quarter of the capacity of the OPEC member nation.

THE ARTICLE

16 Aug 2006 23:23:12 GMT

SAN FRANCISCO, Aug 16 (Reuters) – Trico Marine Services Inc. confirmed on Wednesday that four of its employees had been safely released after being abducted from its supply vessel off the Niger Delta and held hostage for a week.

The two Norwegians and two Ukrainians were released on Tuesday, Aug. 15, the Houston-based oil field support services company said in a statement.

The men were abducted on August 8 from a ship servicing an offshore oil rig operated by Peak Petroleum in partnership with Equator Exploration .

The Nigerian government said on Tuesday that the workers had been released, but Trico confirmed it late on Wednesday.

Trico President and Chief Executive Trevor Turbidy said in the company’s statement that local officials in Nigeria, the governments of Norway, Ukraine and the United States and Peak Petroleum had contributed to resolving the kidnappings.

“We appreciate the hard work and support of our colleagues around the world and are extremely grateful that the four workers were released unharmed and returned home to be with their families,” Turbidy said.

Peak is in dispute with a local community over jobs and other benefits. The four men were released after Peak struck an agreement to include the community in their benefits package, with the blessing of the local government, authorities said on Tuesday.

Trico said that all four employees would undergo medical examinations and that they would be debriefed before returning to home.

The men worked on a vessel owned by a Norwegian unit of Trico that services an offshore drilling rig.

Eight foreigners were kidnapped from the same rig for two days in June. About 16 foreign oil workers have been kidnapped in five separate abductions in the past two week sin the oil-producing Niger Delta. Nine have been released.

A series of attacks and kidnappings at the beginning of the year by a new militant group demanding more local control over the delta’s oil wealth prompted President Olusegun Obasanjo to set up a committee to inject new investment into the neglected region.

Those attacks forced Royal Dutch Shell to shut about 500,000 barrels per day of oil production, almost a quarter of the capacity of the OPEC member nation. (Additional reporting by Eric Auchard in San Francisco)

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