Chevron shuts down Nigeria production after attack

Chevron shut down 15,000 b/d of oil production in Nigeria after one Nigerian sailor was killed and six foreign oil workers were kidnapped by members of MEND, who May 1 attacked the company's Oloibiri FPSO off southern Bayelsa State.

Eric Watkins
Senior Correspondent

LOS ANGELES, May 2 -- Chevron Corp. has shut down 15,000 b/d of oil production in Nigeria after one Nigerian sailor was killed and six foreign oil workers were kidnapped by members of the Militant Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), who attacked Chevron's Oloibiri floating production, storage, and offloading vessel off southern Bayelsa State on May 1.

A Chevron spokesperson said the firm had shut down the production from Funiwa oil field to avoid any additional security or safety incidents following the attack. The FPSO supports the Funiwa oil field.

MEND spokesman Jomo Gbomo said the hostages would be released on May 30, if oil companies and Bayelsa State government officials made no attempt to secure their release or offered ransom money.

Gbomo, who warned that such offers would be viewed as a "slight" and would "worsen the situation of these hostages," identified the men as Raffele Pascariello, Alfonso Frawza, Ignazio Gugliota, Mario Celetano, John Stapleton, and Juricha Ruis.

Gbomo said the attack on Chevron's facilities should also be interpreted as a warning to Royal Dutch Shell PLC, which has recently returned to fields in Bayelsa and Delta states earlier attacked by MEND. MEND is fighting for more local control over the Niger Delta's oil wealth.

The May 1 attack followed a national election Apr. 21 in which Katsina State Gov. Umar Yar'adua and Bayelsa State Gov. Goodluck Jonathan were voted in as Nigeria's new president and vice-president.

But Gbomo said the election meant nothing to MEND unless "it is accompanied by a fulfillment of all conditions we have previously given to the Nigerian government and oil companies for peace to return to the Niger Delta."

MEND's May 1 killing and kidnapping follows a report by the International Maritime Bureau that oil tankers and installations off Nigeria continue to be a main target of pirate attacks, despite a downward trend elsewhere around the globe (OGJ Online, Apr. 30, 2007).

Contact Eric Watkins at hippalus@yahoo.com.

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