Monday, January 16, 2006

Gunmen Attack Oil Platform

Unidentified gunmen clashed with Nigerian soldiers guarding an oil plant operated by the Anglo-Dutch oil giant Shell in the Niger Delta, said a military commander. The attack on the Benisede flow station came as fears mounted for four foreign oilmen who were kidnapped five days ago by suspected militants after a spate of dynamite attacks on Shell's pipelines in the region.
oil platform operated by Shell in the Niger Delta
"There was an attack on that location about 07:00 today. We don't know who made the attack. We don't know about casualties," said Brigadier-General Elias Zamani. Benisede is a riverside pumping station which gathers crude oil from a network of wells in swampland around the Bomadi Creek, part of the Niger Delta south of the city of Warri and 300km southeast of Lagos. The plant is usually guarded by a platoon of Nigerian soldiers from Zamani's joint taskforce, a combined unit set up to protect the Niger Delta's multibillion-dollar oil industry from attack by pirates and militias. On Wednesday, suspected militants blew up Shell's Trans-Ramos pipeline near Benisede, cutting off 106 000 barrels of daily production, and seized four foreign oil workers from a boat operating off the coast. The oil workers - an American, a Briton, a Bulgarian and a Honduran - have been held since Wednesday somewhere in the delta creeks, said officials. A previously unknown Ijaw group has claimed responsibility for the attacks and demanded the release of a detained guerrilla leader and an impeached state governor who was seen as a champion of local autonomy.