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Reuters: UPDATE 1-Gunmen kill Nigerian sailor in Delta boat attack

Thu Mar 20, 2008 4:46pm EDT 

LAGOS, March 20 (Reuters) – Gunmen aboard a speedboat attacked a security vessel as it travelled to a major oil industry port in Nigeria’s Niger Delta, killing a Nigerian sailor, security sources said on Thursday.

Around 15 unknown gunmen attacked the vessel late on Wednesday as it travelled along the Bonny river towards Onne, a port used to supply oil industry contractors and ships that service the offshore sector.

“The vessel was on its way to Onne when armed men attacked,” one of the security sources, who works in the oil industry, said. Further details were not immediately available.

Onne lies close to Bonny Island, home to a 400,000 barrel-per-day oil export terminal operated by Royal Dutch Shell (RDSa.L: Quote, Profile, Research) and to the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) plant which exports 22 million tonnes per year of compressed gas.

Nigeria, an OPEC member, is the world’s eighth-biggest exporter of crude oil and disruptions to supply due to violence in the Delta have been one of the causes of the rise of world oil prices to more than $100 a barrel.

The Delta, home to Africa’s biggest oil industry which exports around 2.1 million barrels per day, is frequently hit by abductions for ransom, armed robberies and crude oil smuggling.

The world’s biggest seafaring union said in February it wanted Nigerian waters declared a war zone because of a rise in attacks and kidnapping on merchant shipping.

Oil companies have been struggling to cope with a wave of violence in the vast wetlands, fuelled by poverty, corruption and lawlessness.

The latest round of unrest began in early 2006 when the MEND, a new rebel coalition, blew up oil facilities and abducted dozens of foreign workers in a series of raids.

The initial onslaught cut 20 percent of national oil output.

(For full Reuters Africa coverage and to have your say on the top issues, visit: )

(Reporting by Nick Tattersall; editing by Andrew Roche)

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