Global Processing

Nigeria attack stops Shell''s Bonga offshore oil

June 20, 2008
Reuters is reporting that militants in speedboats attacked Royal Dutch Shell''s main offshore facility in Nigeria recently, cutting the country''s oil output by a tenth and raising fears of a new campaign against deepwater installations.

The strike on Shell''s Bonga field, which lies some 120 km (75 miles) off the coast and has a nameplate capacity of 220,000 barrels per day, forced the Anglo-Dutch giant to stop output from the $3.6 billion (1.8 billion pound) facility.

The rebel Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) -- which until now has mainly blown up oil pipelines and kidnapped expatriate workers in the shallow creeks of southern Nigeria -- warned the attack may not be its last in deep waters.

International oil companies have been increasingly focusing on offshore projects in Nigeria, partly to offset the risk to onshore operations in the Niger Delta, where a violent campaign of sabotage has cut output by a fifth in recent years.

After the Bonga attack, MEND gunmen came across a separate oil supply vessel and seized its U.S. captain -- working for oil services firm Tidex, contracted to Chevron -- in what security sources said appeared to be an opportunistic strike.

MEND later said it had released the man to his employers.

MEND and other militant groups say they are campaigning for a fairer share of oil wealth for local communities in the Niger Delta, whose land and water have been polluted by oil extraction for five decades.