Armed gunmen attacked an oil rig in Nigerian waters forcing the
operator, Royal Dutch Shell, to shut down production in the area. In a
separate but related incident, militants attacked a boat briefly taking
a U.S. national aboard hostage. For VOA, Sarah Simpson has more from
Royal Dutch Shell confirm that gunmen attacked one of
their oil rigs in Nigeria in the early hours of Thursday morning. The
attack forced the oil giant to shut down oil production in the area -
reducing its daily output by 200,000 barrels.
This latest attack
significantly reduces Nigerian crude production, already well below
capacity due to sustained attacks from militant groups.
Nigeria's main militant group, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, or MEND, claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement issued to journalists.
also says it took a US national hostage Thursday in a separate
incident. The group said later it released the hostage without
conditions. Private security officials confirmed the man's release.
Hostage taking for ransom is common in the Niger Delta.
on offshore facilities are rare. Many oil industry officials consider
offshore operations to be safer than operating onshore in the Niger
Delta. However, a written statement, MEND said it wanted to demonstrate
that no oil facility, even one's offshore, is safe.
words, "The location for today's attack was deliberately chosen to
remove any notion that off-shore oil exploration is far from our
reach." The rig attacked on Thursday lies some 100 kilometers out to
sea in the Bonga oil field.
The Niger Delta remains poor despite
decades of oil production. The delta is awash with guns and much of the
simmering anger in the region is directed towards the oil industry.