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Eight workers abducted in Nigeria

Unknown attackers abducted foreign oil workers from an oil rig, about 40 miles off the coast of southern Nigeria.

india Updated: Jun 02, 2006 17:35 IST
Associated Press
Associated Press

Unknown attackers abducted eight foreign oil workers from an oil rig about 40 miles off the coast of southern Nigeria on Friday, the owners and operators of the rig said.

It was not immediately clear if the kidnappings were linked to a campaign of attacks on the oil industry by a militant group that has shut down a quarter of OPEC member Nigeria's 2.4 million barrels per day production of crude oil since February.

"Some unknown persons boarded the rig at 3 am and took eight workers.

They are six from the UK, one Canadian and one from the US," said an executive from one of the companies that operate the Bulford Dolphin rig.

Security sources said earlier eight Nigerians had also been abducted but the company executive denied this.

The rig, owned by Norwegian oilfield services group Fred Olsen Energy and operated by Nigerian firm Peak Petroleum in partnership with Equator Exploration, is an exploration rig that is not expected to produce any crude oil for several years.

There was no immediate indication of any link to a series of attacks and abductions by the militant Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), which demands greater local control of oil revenues.

MEND has usually claimed its attacks within minutes by sending emails to media, but there was no word from the group on Friday and they did not immediately respond to messages.

MEND has threatened more attacks on oil installations for months but the last one it carried out was on February 18.

Security sources said the Bulford Dolphin rig sent a distress call during the attack that was picked up by the Ossa Valiant, a ship cruising nearby.

Non-essential staff from the rig were being evacuated to the city of Port Harcourt in the Niger Delta, the company executive said.

The timing of the attack is embarrassing for Nigerian authorities and particularly the navy, which was due to celebrate its 50th anniversary with an international fleet review by President Olusegun Obasanjo in Lagos later on Friday.

First Published: Jun 02, 2006 16:32 IST