The Anglo-Dutch energy giant Shell has been forced to evacuate an offshore oil field following attacks on its facilties by Niger Delta militants, a statement said Saturday.

The company said that following an attack on its Forcados export
terminal in southern Nigeria, in which nine foreign workers were
kidnapped and an oil loading platform set ablaze, it was closing
its EA field.

This will lead to a loss in production of 115,000 thousand
barrels of oil per day, the firm said. Shell is already losing
106,000 barrels per day due to the closure of four plants following
similar attacks last month.

Meanwhile, it was unclear whether the Forcados terminal — which
handles around 380,000 barrels per day — will quickly be able to
resume exports.

A Shell spokesman said that no tankers were due to arrive at the
offshore crude loading platform until next week, and it was not yet
known whether the damage to the facility could be quickly repaired.

“A barge belonging to an SPDC contractor (Willbros) in the
Forcados Estuary was attacked this morning. We understand that nine
expatriates have been taken hostage but are unable to make further
comments,” the statement said.

“We recognize the immense strains placed upon the hostages,
their families and contractor companies under the present
circumstances,” it continued.

“We continue to cooperate with the Nigerian authorities and the
hostages’ employer and offer every assistance to secure the safe
release of the hostages,” it added.

The firm also confirmed that there had been an explosion on an
oil pipeline leading into the terminal from the delta creeks.

Nigeria is Africa’s largest oil exporter, producing a total of
around 2.6 million barrels per day, but the wells and flow stations
of the Niger Delta are vulnerable to attack from pirates and
separatist militants.

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