YENAGOA, Nigeria (AP) -Armed men have seized control of an oil complex in southern Nigeria owned by a subsidiary of Royal Dutch Shell PLC, authorities said Friday.
No deaths were reported but one man was shot in the overnight attack on the facility, an operating base that houses staff and stores equipment, said Joshua Benemesia, a local chief who has mediated hostage negotiations in Nigeria’s oil-rich delta region.
Scores of oil workers, mostly local Nigerians, typically live in such compounds.
Police confirmed that assailants were occupying the Shell installation in Nigeria’s Bayelsa state Friday morning and said authorities would take action to regain control.
“The military are looking at how to take the facility,” Bayelsa Police Commissioner Hafiz Ringim said.
Attacks have become common in the southern river delta of Africa’s largest crude producer. Assailants range from militants who claim to be fighting for the freedom of their imprisoned leaders and a greater share of oil wealth to criminal gangs looking for a quick ransom from hostages.
Benemesia, head of a government-funded group that is attempting to curb attacks in Bayelsa, said he had not seen the assault himself, but had talked to members of his group at the scene. He did not have details on the number of gunmen involved.
Attacks on pipelines and oil facilities have cut the West African country’s usual daily output of 2.5 million barrels by about a quarter this year.
Nigeria is the fifth-largest supplier of oil to the United States, and attacks in the Niger river delta have often moved world oil markets.
The latest occurred as OPEC wrapped up a meeting in the Nigerian capital Abuja during which the group announced plans to cut output in early 2007, pushing oil prices above $62 a barrel.