Niger Delta Rebels, Movement for the Emancipation of Niger delta (MEND) have claimed responsibility for today’s attack on an oil vessel belonging to Italian oil firm, ENI in Nigeria’s troubled, Niger delta.
Jomo Gbomo confirmed that MEND’s fighters carried out the attack in an email to The Times of Nigeria a few minutes ago.
Six people were taken hostage in the attack.
It was the second attack on an offshore oilfield in Nigeria in one week, undermining a five-month ceasefire by armed groups which had raised hopes for peace talks with the government.
The gunmen overpowered the vessel shortly before dawn and used it to attempt to board the nearby Mystras oil production facility, operated by Saipem and SBM Offshore <SBMO.AS>.
“Some speedboats carrying unidentified gunmen assaulted and jumped aboard a supply vessel nearby the FPSO Mystras. Attackers also tried to climb upon the Mystras itself without success,” Saipem parent ENI <ENI.MI> said in a statement, adding that no one had been injured.
The Mystras floating production, storage and offloading (FPSO) vessel pumps oil from the Okono Okpoho field. Industry sources said output had been stopped as a precaution during the raid.
The Nigerian Navy dispatched a vessel to the area, located about 20 miles (32 km) south of the Bonny Island oil and gas export complex, the sources added.
Armed groups fighting for regional control over the oil resources of the Niger Delta had observed a ceasefire from the inauguration of President Umaru Yar’Adua in May, who promised to address the underlying causes of the conflict.
However, one prominent rebel leader, Henry Okah of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), was arrested on arms trafficking charges in Angola last month and Nigeria has said it was trying to bring him home to face charges.
MEND also claimed responsibility for last Saturday’s attack on Shell’s EA field, in which seven workers were taken hostage for two days.