Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Ship attacked at Exxon Nigerian oil platform

(Reuters) - Gunmen attacked a ship supplying an Exxon Mobil oil platform off the Nigerian coast, the company said on Tuesday, less than three weeks after someone was kidnapped from a vessel at one of its facilities in the same waters.

Kidnappings are relatively common in the onshore oil-producing Niger Delta but since an amnesty was agreed with militants in 2009 and the military have cracked down on gangs in the creeks, more attacks have spread offshore.

"Mobil Producing Nigeria, operator of the joint venture with the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, confirms that in the early hours of Monday October 17, 2011, some armed men attacked a third party vessel near our facilities, offshore Akwa Ibom State," a company statement said on Tuesday.

"At this time, we do not know the identity of the attackers, nor reason for their action. The incident has been reported to security and relevant government agencies."

The company did not say if anyone had been kidnapped or what happened to the vessel.

A sailor was kidnapped from a ship supplying an Exxon oil platform in the same region on Sep. 30. There has been no update on his whereabouts.

Pirates last week released a ship seized off the coast of Nigeria, freeing the 20-member Eastern European crew who had been held for five days. There was no confirmation from the owners of the ship about a ransom payment.

The incident was the latest in a string of attacks on ships in the Gulf of Guinea that experts say is threatening an emerging trade hub and growing source of oil, metals and agricultural products to world markets.

Pirates in the Gulf of Guinea, which stretches from Guinea to Angola, tend to raid ships for cash and cargo rather than hijacking the crews for ransom like their counterparts off the coast of Somalia.

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