LOS ANGELES, Jan. 16 -- Royal Dutch Shell PLC evacuated a reported 326 workers from one of its oil facilities in Nigeria on Jan. 15 after 16 people were killed or wounded in an attack by unidentified gunmen.
Harriman Oyofo, Shell Petroleum Development Co.'s external affairs manager, said that the company has commenced evacuation of the personnel on duty from Benisede and neighboring flow-stations Opukushi, Ogbotobo, and Tunu in Bayelsa State.
Benisede is a riverside pumping station, which gathers crude oil from a network of wells in swampland around the Bomadi Creek, and part of the Niger/Delta, about 300 km southeast of Lagos.
Shell said one of its workers was killed and ten more injured in the raid, while Nigerian Army spokesman Col. Mohammed Yusuf said fewer than five soldiers were killed in the attack, with some others missing.
Forty-two of the company's contractors and staff were on duty at Benisede when it was attacked by what Shell called "heavily armed persons."
Shell said the attackers invaded the flow station in speed boats, burnt down two staff accommodation blocks, damaged the processing facilities and left.
A Shell spokesman said oil output was unaffected because Benisede was one of four flow-stations closed on Jan. 11 after militants blew up a major oil export pipeline.
But observers said the attack may delay repairs to the 100,000 b/d Trans-Ramos pipeline which had been expected to resume pumping to the Forcados tanker terminal on Jan. 16 or 17.
Earlier Shell decided to shut in 120,000 b/d of oil production due to security concerns that followed the kidnapping of four workers. Gunmen in three boats seized the workers Jan. 11 from Shell's EA oil platform (OGJ Online, Jan. 13, 2006).
Both the kidnapping and the pipeline blasts have been claimed by a previously unknown separatist group, Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger/Delta (MEND), which seeks independence for the region's Ijaw people.
In an e-mail statement on Jan. 12, MEND said all westerners, especially Britons and Americans, were legitimate targets. It said it was not interested in any ransom and threatened more attacks on Nigeria's oil industry. "We are capable and determined to destroy the ability of Nigeria to export oil," the statement said.
Contact Eric Watkins at [email protected].