Ship guarding Addax facility off Nigeria attacked

Even as Royal Dutch Shell PLC announced a continuation of its force majeure for Nigerian Bonny oil exports, militants in southern Nigeria ambushed a naval vessel guarding an offshore concession operated by Addax Petroleum Corp., killing one person and wounding several others.

Eric Watkins
Senior Correspondent

LOS ANGELES, June 9 -- Even as Royal Dutch Shell PLC announced a continuation of its force majeure for Nigerian Bonny oil exports, militants in southern Nigeria ambushed a naval vessel guarding an offshore concession operated by Addax Petroleum Corp., killing one person and wounding several others.

"We strongly believe that this unfortunate incident was a premeditated act by criminal elements seeking personal benefit," rather than political activists, said Addax president and CEO Jean Claude Gandur referring to the attack that left one Nigerian naval officer dead and four others wounded.

Addax said the attack on Block OML126, located 90 km south of Port Harcourt some 40 km offshore, took place at around 11:45 pm on June 8 when the Nigerian naval vessel was approached and fired upon by unknown assailants in two speedboats.

The two speedboats were repelled and departed without any adverse effect on Addax's operations or its technical infrastructure on OML126, which produced some 41,250 b/d in 2007. The naval personnel and vessel were taken to LNG Bonny Island where the injured personnel were given medical attention, Addax said. An investigation of the attack is underway.

The attack followed Addax's recent announcement that a combination of discoveries at Ofrima North 50 km south of Brass, Nigeria, justifies standalone development with a floating production, storage, and offloading vessel and subsea tiebacks (OGJ, May 5, 2008, Newsletter).

The attack on OML126 also coincided with a Shell announcement that its force majeure remains in place for Nigerian Bonny oil exports despite earlier plans to lift it by the end of May.

In late April, production of about 164,000 b/d of Bonny Light crude was shut in after militant attacks, causing Shell to declare the force majeure to free it from supply contract obligations on Bonny Light for late April through May.

Further attacks in late May saw some 130,000 b/d of Nigerian production shut in (OGJ Online, May 28, 2008). Recent reports say that more than 600,000 b/d of Nigerian crude remain shut in due to militant assaults, amounting to some 20-25% of the country's typical oil production.

Contact Eric Watkins at hippalus@yahoo.com.

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