An attack by armed separatists in speedboats has forced Royal Dutch Shell to shut down its biggest offshore oil production unit in , removing a tenth of the Opec state's output.
The raid on Bonga, a floating oil production and storage facility 120km offshore, has caught Nigeria's foreign oil operators by surprise. The deep water installations in the were previously thought to be beyond the reach of the militant groups that continue to harass and disrupt oil production in the swamps of the Niger Delta.
The attack was aimed at Bonga but the militants also attacked two drilling rigs and three supply vessels in the area. The American captain of one supply vessel, under contract for Chevron, was taken hostage. The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (Mend), claimed responsibility for the attack and threatened further violence.
The movement said yesterday that oil companies should remove their expatriate workers and avoid sending oil and gas tankers to the area if they wished to avoid violence.
The shutdown removes 225,000 barrels per day of oil output as well as natural gas that is fed into Nigeria LNG, the country's liquefied natural gas export joint venture - another Shell-operated project.
Source: Times Online