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Nigeria: Shell Stops Producing 200,000 Barrels – After Militants’ Attack

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Nigeria: Shell Stops Producing 200,000 Barrels – After Militants’ Attack

Daily Trust (Abuja)
 

Henry Omunu and Tashikalmah Hallah
Port-Harcourt

A devastating attack on the huge Bonga offshore oil platform yesterday forced the country’s leading oil producing company, Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC), to suspend all production and export activities at the field.

The decision to shut down Bonga means the loss of 200,000 barrels of crude oil per day from this country’s export total. The shutdown has cut a tenth of Nigeria’s total output at a go. This comes on top of a reduction of at least 20% in recent years following frequent militant activities in oil-rich Niger Delta region.

Reacting swiftly to reports of the attack yesterday, the House of Representatives invited the Minister of State for Petroleum and many other stakeholders in the security and oil sector to a meeting on Monday in order to take a closer look at the implications of the militants’ renewed attacks.

In a statement signed by the House Committee chairman on Petroleum Resources (Upstream), Tam Brisbe, the committee said, “In view of the importance of petroleum products to the nation and the economy, the committee wishes to call on the federal government to, with all sense of urgency, look into the matters as they relate to the Niger Delta and the oil industry. Furthermore, the committee is inviting the Minister of State (Petroleum), the Minister of Defence, National Security Adviser, Chief of Defence Staff, GMD NNPC, MD Shell, MD ExxonMobil, MD Addax, MD Agip, to brief it on the above issue as it relates to the state security and the general effect of this attack on the oil industry and the nation in general.”

The Nigeria Navy confirmed the attack yesterday, saying an American oil worker was abducted by militants. The militant group said the hostage

would be released in exchange for Niger Delta insurgents being held by the federal government. Shell said the raid took place overnight on the Bonga oil platform, about 120km off the Nigerian coast.

Shell spokesman in the area Mr. Precious Okolobo said, “I can confirm that the Bonga field in western Niger Delta was attacked early today.

Production at the facility has been shut off, but we cannot confirm further details at the moment.”

Lt.-Col. Sagir Musa, spokesman of the troops responsible for providing security to oil-production facilities in the Niger Delta, also confirmed the attack, but said the situation had been brought under control.

Early yesterday, the gunmen in speedboats reached the Bonga installation, Shell’s flagship project, for the first time ever. The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) claimed it carried out the attack in an e-mail sent to reporters, and named the abducted American as Captain Jack Stone.

Spokesman for MEND, Mr. Jomo Gbomo in a statement released in Port-Harcourt, said its fighters stormed the supposedly fortified offshore facility operated by Shell in the early hours of yesterday, with the intention of disrupting crude oil exports from the facility.

According to MEND, “the location for the attack was deliberately chosen to remove any notion that off-shore oil exploration is far from our reach. The oil companies and their collaborators do not have any place to hide in conducting their nefarious activities.”

He added, “The main computerized control room responsible for coordinating the entire crude oil export operations from the fields was our main target. Our detonation engineers could not gain access to blow it up but decided against smoking out the occupants by burning down the facility to avoid loss of life.”

MEND also warned all Nigerians and expatriate workers engaged on the Bonga fields to evacuate the offshore facility as the next planned attack by the militant group “might not take into consideration the humanitarian losses that may be involved in such attacks.”

Similarly, the militants advised oil and gas tankers to avoid Nigerian waters to avoid being attacked by MEND fighters, just as the group further warned foreign oil prospecting majors in the country to evacuate their expatriate staff from the country for security reasons, until all the outstanding issues in the Niger Delta crisis have been resolved.

The MEND spokesman said the release of the American hostage would be delayed because it fears “Nigerian security officials would want to exploit the opportunity to make money from ransom.”

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