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THISDAY ONLINE (Nigeria): British Workers Ask Shell, Others to Quit N/Delta

By Chika Amanze-Nwachuku, 04.04.2007

The  British central labour union has called on all British oil companies to pull out of the Niger Delta on the back of rising kidnappings of foreign workers in the region by militants.

The UK union leader, Mr. Graham Tran yesterday demanded for a complete withdrawal of UK companies from the Niger Delta until the safety of foreign workers can be guaranteed in the region.

Notable British-based oil companies operating in Nigeria include Shell, which account for more than 40 percent of Nigeria’s oil and production and British Gas, a key partner of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) in the $6 billion Olokola LNG project.

Tran said the lead in declaring the Niger Delta a “no-go” area had already been taken by Aberdeen-based PSN.  Said he: “How many more people have to be killed or kidnapped before other companies get the message?”

Militants armed with AK47 assault rifles stormed the Bulford Dolphin drilling rig, about 40 miles off the Nigerian coast last Saturday, and kidnapped a Briton, Mr. Gordon Gray, an employee of Aberdeen-based Dolphin Drilling.

His kidnap was followed on Monday with the abduction of two Lebanese construction workers of Setraco by gunmen in Bayelsa State. In June last year, two Scottish oil workers were amongst the eight foreign workers who were kidnapped in an earlier attack by armed rebels on the same drilling platform.

Last October, three Scottish oilmen were held hostage for 18 terrifying days in a Nigerian swamp after a gang of militants stormed a contractors’ compound near Port Harcourt.

And, last November, an oil worker from Teesside was killed during a bungled rescue attempt after being taken hostage from an oil-supply ship off the Nigerian coast.

Nigeria’s oil production has been reduced by more than 700,000 b/d and revenue of over $1 billion (N128 billion) lost since the unrest in the Niger Delta began in February 2006.

Also, Unrest in the Niger Delta has been reportedly forcing foreign oil-service companies to turn down contracts awarded in the oil-rich region.

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