Gunmen have attacked a tanker carrying petroleum products off the coast of Nigeria on Wednesday and seized a Romanian worker. The attack is the latest in Nigeria's oil-producing south in recent weeks.

Security officials in the volatile Niger Delta, home to Africa's biggest oil and gas industry, say the tanker loaded with 4,000 tons of diesel was badly damaged in the attack. The unidentified gunmen also kidnapped a Romanian worker on the tanker.

The vessel was said to be traveling from Lagos to the main oil city of Port Harcourt. The incident is the latest in a string of attacks on the oil industry by militants who claim to be fighting for a greater share of Nigeria's oil wealth for the local people.

Poverty and corruption are the main ingredients driving militancy and crime in the Delta's neglected communities, where many feel cheated out of the oil wealth being pumped out of their land.

Authorities have acknowledged that poverty and neglect lie at the root of many of the Delta's problems and a series of measures have been announced to develop the region. But these failed to quell discontent in the region.

Former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who was in Nigeria recently, says resentment towards the oil industry will continue until majority of Nigerians benefit from the country's oil wealth.

"The experience if your country shows that revenues from oil must be seen as benefiting as many people as possible," he said. "If it is seen as benefiting the minority at the expense of majority, the resulting tensions can be disastrous."

The world's eighth largest oil exporter is already suffering huge losses because of violence in the Delta.

Gunmen attacked an oil tanker and an oil services vessel at the Bonny crude loading platform operated by Royal Dutch Shell over the weekend and took eight crew members hostage.

Hundreds of both local and foreign oil workers have been kidnapped in the region since 2006.